Written by Rachel Abbott – Lost something recently? Forever wondering where you left your glasses/car keys/pen/boyfriend? Perhaps the last item in the list might sound a little far fetched – but not for Liv Hunt. Because one day, just a couple of months after she gave birth to their daughter, Liv’s boyfriend Danush called to say he was on his way home from university. The trouble is, he never arrived.
Cue Liv’s first brush with the law, which all comes to naught when Dan’s credit card trail shows he subsequently took a train to London and then a flight to Australia. Move on a few months and Liv has to deal with a second police inquiry – this time, into the deaths of her parents, killed by carbon monoxide poisoning on the very day she was moving out of the flat she’d bought with Dan to live back at home with them. It seems that Liv is one of those unlucky people destined to have no good luck at all.
Which is why she is so grateful to Robert, the man who was buying her flat and who leaps to her rescue. He lets her stay on at the flat, deals with her parents’ funeral arrangements and appears an all-round good egg. A few months later, an extremely vulnerable Liv marries him.
Skip to the present day, and after nine years Olivia, as she now calls herself, is the epitome of the good wife. She has two more children, a lovely, if soulless, house, and a doting husband. But appearances can be deceptive, and as we learn more about Olivia, we realise that all is not well in the Brookes household. Robert is a master controller, who holds the purse strings, discourages his wife from making friends, and pays little regard to his two sons and adoptive daughter. Olivia must account for every moment she is not with her husband.
Liv Hunt was the life and soul of the party; Olivia Brookes is a shadow of the woman she used to be. But inside her, some iota of rebellion still lives, and when Robert senses that the worm is turning, he plays his masterstroke. First she lost the love of her life, then her parents. Now, Olivia has lost her children. She calls the police after Robert takes them out for a pizza and doesn’t return. Is she about to suffer another tragedy?
Sleep Tight is another fine piece of work from the accomplished pen of self-published author Rachel Abbott. Fans will be happily reacquainted with DCI Tom Douglas, who featured in both of the author’s previous novels, The Back Road and Only the Innocent and his on/off girlfriend Leo. However Sleep Tight works well as a stand alone for new readers too. The story is gripping and I love the way Abbott leads you up one garden path after another. Just when you think you’ve got it sussed, you’ll find yourself screeching in frustration at your foolishness.
It reaches a climax that is certainly dramatic and had me on the edge of my seat, but for some reason I felt a little let-down as everything finally fell into place in the final pages. A fourth Tom Douglas book is promised, which will help to tie up some of the loose ends from Sleep Tight – and I look forward to its release.
CFL Rating: 4 Stars