All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

Review: None Shall Sleep by Ellie Marney

on September 30, 2020

None Shall Sleep 
Ellie Marney
Allen & Unwin
2020, 384p
Copy courtesy of the publisher

Blurb {from the publisher/}:

Interviewing convicted juvenile killers for the FBI leads Emma Lewis and Travis Bell on the hunt for a serial murderer who targets teenagers. A riveting YA thriller that will keep readers on the edge of their seat from start to finish.

It’s 1982, and the innovative FBI Behavioral Science section is breaking new ground. Emma Lewis and Travis Bell, two teenagers with valuable skills, are recruited to interview convicted juvenile killers for information on cold cases.

When they’re drawn into an active case targeting teenagers, everything starts to unravel. Over Travis’s objections, Emma becomes the conduit between the FBI and an incarcerated serial killer, nineteen-year-old Simon Gutmunsson, who is a super-intelligent sociopath. And although Simon seems to be giving them the information they need to save lives, he’s also an expert manipulator playing a very long game …

Can Emma and Travis stop a serial killer on the loose – or will they fall victim themselves?

This book was a ride! I’m a bit of a wuss when it comes to crime/mystery/horror. Those type of books can give me a lot of anxious feelings – I have to really be in the mood for something psychologically suspenseful, something that builds tension to screaming point. I sort of guessed from the cover and description of this book that it was going to be something like that and so I immediately made a note that this one would be read in the broad daylight! It’s school holidays here in Melbourne at the moment and I’ve been reading bed for a leisurely hour or hour and a half every morning. It’s not something I normally do but I’ve been really enjoying it and this was one of the books that I started in bed in the morning and then finished in the afternoon.

Ed Cooper from the FBI has a bit of a groundbreaking idea. He wants to recruit young people, teenagers to interview criminals of around the same age. He hopes that by appealing to them on a level that they may feel more comfortable with, those criminals might give up information that helps the FBI and other law enforcement agencies understand what motivates teen killers, why they do what they do. The two teens he ends up with are Emma Lewis and Travis Bell, who have both been touched in different ways by horrifically violent crime. At first, Emma and Travis are just supposed to visit incarcerated convicted criminals who committed or started their crime spree as teens and interview them, get them to fill in a questionnaire, maybe get a few tidbits of previously unknown information. But then a gruesomely notorious criminal communicates with Cooper in a way that suggests he knows something….and Emma and Travis find themselves involved in a game of cat and mouse with a master manipulator that might help them solve a current case….or cost them their lives.

This is set in the early 1980s when the FBI Behavioural Science unit was probably a fledgling thing. These days, I suspect you wouldn’t get away with throwing teenagers into the paths of psychopaths, especially teenagers with deep trauma. And both Emma and Travis have definitely dealt with a trauma. Well, are both still dealing with it and this role that they undertake is only going to exacerbate it but both of them want to continue, even after Cooper throws them a curveball, even after they see things no one should ever see. They have a chance to help solve something and both of them want to do it.

This is a book that pulls you in from the first page, where you always want to know a bit more. A bit more about what happened to Emma, a bit more about what Simon did, a bit more about what is going on with the current case, a bit more about the interviews with the incarcerated criminals. It doesn’t use a lot of blunt imagery when it could have, instead it’s almost what it doesn’t say, that builds the story. You know the bare basics of what happened to Emma but you’re left to imagine the rest, to fill in the gaps about how it might’ve happened, what might’ve been done to her and the fallout of the aftermath. And that’s incredibly effective, especially if you have a pretty vivid imagination! Emma is strong and determined even as she’s also horrifically vulnerable, still a victim of what happened to her and maybe she always will be and I don’t mean that in a negative way. She’ll bear the scars of that inside for the rest of her life. Thats why I think, it’s so uncomfortable at times, to read her conversations with someone like Simon. Someone who sees the soft spots in a person and prods them relentlessly, even from behind bars.

This took me in directions that I didn’t really expect, some of the happenings actually made me react out loud – especially one, which I read 2-3x even though I knew I read it right, I couldn’t believe it was happening. I really enjoyed the way this built the tension, escalated the crimes in the current, open case and the ways in which Emma and Travis became more and more deeply enmeshed in things, especially Emma. I couldn’t put it down towards the end, had to know the way that everything was going to play out and whether or not these two kids would best the arrogant agent who tried to get rid of them.

Really enjoyed this, which I expected as I always enjoy Ellie Marney’s books. This is grittier and even more of a mind game but it’s the sort of read that hauls you in and doesn’t let you go until it splits you out right at the end.


Book #192 of 2020

None Shall Sleep is book #75 of The Australian Women Writers Challenge for 2020


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