One Among the Sleepless

One Among the SleeplessOne Among the Sleepless by Mike Bennett
Publisher: Seed Publishing
Released: July 15, 2002
Pages: 288
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"SEX, DEATH, AND NOISY NEIGHBOURS"

A killer has come to town. The victims are connected; each pointing to the next, as if in answer to the question: Who is The One?

Is it Peter Reynolds: mild-mannered office clerk pouring petrol through his neighbour’s letterbox in the middle of the night?

Is it Wayne Dolan: a man whose sexual fantasies about his neighbour spiral into dangerous obsession when he learns of her secret life as a dominatrix?

Or is it Gaz: leader of three friends who love nothing more than sex, weed and partying? All women are easy prey for his charms. All except Sally. And the one who doesn’t want him, is the one he has to have – whether she likes it or not.

Mick Nixon has to find the connection, because people are disappearing - and if he and Sally are ever going to share more than just lunch, he’d better hurry up, or they could be next.

A dark, funny, and at times horrific ride, One Among the Sleepless is a thriller set just below the surface of suburban existence. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll throw it through your neighbour’s window tied to a house brick!

“A tale that’s harder to put down than a delicious bad habit.” Walt Kolenda. Examiner.com

"One Among The Sleepless" is a contemporary fiction novel set in Brighton, England about sex, death and noisy neighbors: a thriller with a rich vein of dark humor that flows from both the narrative and the dialogue of the characters. It's a largely character-driven story; the people and their various shifting relationships compel the plot forward through sometimes subtle, sometimes brutal plot twists towards the final, nail-gnawing climax.

I first encountered One Among the Sleepless many years ago, when I listened to it as a story released in the form of a podcast. I continued following Mike Bennet’s offerings, and while I eventually couldn’t remember that much about One Among the Sleepless, I always remembered liking it. I therefore felt a little nervous about reading it. What if I didn’t like it this time around?

I still like it.

From the outset, the story seems like a down to earth tale about relatively normal people living their lives in relatively normal ways. Then the book gradually takes a turn for the weird, gets stranger, and then goes onto rather cleverly bouncing back and forth between absurdity and utter normality. In a strange way the book never feels too ridiculous or unlikely, even at the heights of its absurdity.
The book has a collection of interesting characters. They don’t develop much, but they don’t need to: they serve their purpose very well, and drive the story onward. Some of the characters are thoroughly likable, charming, and witty people. Others are horrible, strange, mad, or all of the above. These elements are balanced rather well.
It has to be mentioned that this book has quite a large amount of debauchery in it. Thankfully it never seems out of place. Occasionally overdone, yes, but very deliberately so, and only to create the sense of excessiveness, and sometimes absurdity, that is called for in many of the book’s scenes.
My biggest problem with the book is the ending. While it wasn’t bad, it seemed to fizzle out, giving the impression of ending without the story being quite finished. I’m all for open endings, but this seemed incomplete rather than open. It didn’t leave me guessing, but rather left me just not knowing. It didn’t even leave me with the feeling of anything being unresolved. It just stopped. In a story revolving so heavily around characters, it would be nice to have a little more closure for at least some of them.

Overall One Among the Sleepless was a very enjoyable read. It’s not for everyone, but if you aren’t easily offended, if you like slightly strange stories, and if you feel like a quick, darkly funny, entertaining, very British piece of good fun, you could do much worse.

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