cover image Are You Sleeping

Are You Sleeping

Kathleen Barber. Gallery, $26 (336p) ISBN 978-1-5011-5766-0

A true-crime podcast provides the catalyst for the reexamination of a murder in Barber’s inventive debut. In 2002, college professor Charles Buhrman was shot to death in the kitchen of his Elm Park, Ill., home. A 17-year-old neighbor, Warren Cave, was convicted of the murder, based on eyewitness testimony by Lanie, one of Charles’s teenage twin daughters. Charles’s death devastated his wife, Erin; Lanie; and her sister, Josie. Erin joined a cult, abandoning her daughters to her sister. The once-close twins became estranged—Lanie began to act out and use drugs, and she betrayed Josie, who ran away and changed her last name. In 2015, Josie’s quiet domestic life in New York with her boyfriend, Caleb Perlman, explodes when broadcaster Poppy Parnell launches a podcast dredging up the murder, claiming that Warren is innocent. And Josie is pulled back into the family drama following her mother’s sudden death. The intense plot and character studies are enhanced by an emotional look at the dynamics of a family forever scarred by violence. Agent: Lisa Grubka, Fletcher & Company. (Aug.)