cover image Sleepless


Charlie Huston. Ballantine, $25 (353pp) ISBN 978-0-345-50113-4

In Huston’s impressive, challenging thriller set in a postapocalyptic Los Angeles, a devastating illness renders the afflicted unable to sleep. In about a year, those with SLP (as the sleepless illness is known) deteriorate and die. Amid the city’s rampant violence and lawlessness, LAPD cop Parker “Park” Haas tries to persuade himself that a future exists for his newborn daughter. As the outside world becomes increasingly dangerous, Park pursues an undercover investigation that takes him deep into the milieu of an online game called Chasm Tide, into which many people have retreated. As in the author’s Joe Pitt vampire series (My Dead Body , etc.), this book has at its heart a love story: Park’s wife is dying from SLP, and Park begins to fear he may be getting it, too. Can the mysterious mercenary known only as Jasper help? Some fans of Huston’s crime fiction may not be comfortable with a novel that itself resembles a role-playing game, but it will gain him a whole new readership. (Jan.)