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by Ann Cleeves
Pan Books, September 2002
400 pages
6.99 GBP
ISBN: 0330488023

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

The Sleeping and the Dead, Ann Cleeve's second stand-alone novel (in addition to numerous novels in two mystery series), is a taut, well-crafted tale of psychological suspense that cements her position among such masters as Minette Walters and Barbara Vine.

A woman canoeing on Cranwell Lake makes a grisly discovery -- a body, tied to an anchor, that has clearly been in the water for many, many years. Detective Peter Porteous, who transferred to Cranford precisely to avoid pressure and stress, never expected that the nearby lake would provide him with the most difficult case of his career.

Porteous isn't the only one whose life is disrupted by the body's emergence after 30 years. Prison librarian Hannah Morton has more than enough stress in her life. Her husband recently abandoned her for another woman and her teenaged daughter is increasingly rebellious. Hannah needs to get away, but a visit to her hometown of Cranford and her old friend Sally doesn't bring her the respite she'd hoped for. Instead, she learns that the body in the lake has been identified and it's her old boyfriend, Michael Grey.

As Porteous digs into the past and Hannah does her best to avoid her memories of that same past, the mystery of what happened to Michael Grey slowly begins to come to light, but not before more lives are lost.

The Sleeping and the Dead is a page-turner of the first order. It's beautifully plotted, without sacrificing character development. The troubled relationship between Hannah and her daughter rings true, as does Cleeve's depiction of the inner lives of all her characters. The resolution to this complicated tale is more than satisfying. This one will stay with you for a long, long time.

Reviewed by Susan Anderson, November 2002

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