The Sleep Room: A Novel

( 1 )


From Edgar nominee F. R. Tallis comes his latest tale of psychological suspense—and a brilliant reinvention of the ghost story.When promising young psychiatrist James Richardson is offered the job opportunity of a lifetime by the charismatic Dr. Hugh Maitland, he is thrilled. Setting off to take up his post at Wyldehope Hall in deepest Suffolk, Richardson doesn’t look back. One of his tasks is to manage Maitland’s most controversial project—a pioneering therapy in which extremely disturbed patients are kept ...

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The Sleep Room

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From Edgar nominee F. R. Tallis comes his latest tale of psychological suspense—and a brilliant reinvention of the ghost story.When promising young psychiatrist James Richardson is offered the job opportunity of a lifetime by the charismatic Dr. Hugh Maitland, he is thrilled. Setting off to take up his post at Wyldehope Hall in deepest Suffolk, Richardson doesn’t look back. One of his tasks is to manage Maitland’s most controversial project—a pioneering therapy in which extremely disturbed patients are kept asleep for months. If this radical and potentially dangerous procedure is successful, it could mean professional glory for both doctors. As Richardson settles into his new life, he begins to sense something uncanny about the sleeping patients—six women, forsaken by society. Why is Maitland unwilling to discuss their past lives? Why is the trainee nurse so on edge when she spends nights alone with them? And what can it mean when all the sleepers start dreaming at the same time? In this atmospheric reinvention of the ghost story, Richardson finds himself questioning everything he knows about the human mind, as he attempts to uncover the shocking secrets of The Sleep Room . . .

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Editorial Reviews

The New York Times Book Review - Terrence Rafferty
…Tallis's clever, spooky asylum thriller…is an elegantly constructed psychiatric Gothic, all spires and gargoyles and ghostly echoes—the sort of vast, dread edifice we sometimes build around ourselves when the lights go out.
Publishers Weekly
Hasn’t everyone wondered, at some point in our lives, if the moment we were experiencing was real or an illusion? If we are the dreamer or the dream? That is the question posed in F.R. Tallis’s The Sleep Room, a supernatural thriller that is for the most part cozily familiar, but with one chillingly unique element: the controversial psychological treatment at the heart of the novel. Being a clinical psychologist, Tallis excels at getting the medical details right, and this effortless expertise makes it easy to relax into the story. Before too long, however, the reader will notice something off-kilter about the narrator, though the meaning behind this subtle irregularity doesn’t become apparent until the end. The novel, set in the post-WWII era, opens with James Richardson, a young doctor, applying for a position working with one of the leading psychiatrists in the U.K., Hugh Maitland. Maitland is a believer in pharmacological and shock treatments for individuals suffering from “diseases of the mind,” rejecting psychotherapy. The job brings Richardson to Wyldehope Hall, Maitland’s new treatment center in a remote part of Suffolk, where he will serve as the sole physician on staff. In the sleep room, Maitland is testing his theories for a new kind of narcosis treatment in which drugs are used to keep six female patients asleep for prolonged periods. Richardson finds these patients intriguing, but, mysteriously, Maitland will reveal nothing of the women’s pasts to him. As Richardson acclimates to his work and idiosyncratic boss, increasingly bizarre and inexplicable events take place at Wyldehope, events that seem supernatural in nature. Richardson is unable to do much to investigate, however, until one of the nurses—a young trainee alone on the night shift in the sleep room—disappears while on duty and is later found dead. After this, Richardson begins to suspect that Maitland might be up to something the medical community might not approve of, something to do with British intelligence—or even the CIA. By the time Richardson decides to confront his employer, Maitland has ensnared Richardson in a few matters that could be twisted to cast doubt on the young doctor’s competency. Too, by this time, Richardson makes a nasty discovery regarding his new love interest, nurse Jane Turner, turning his world upside down. Anyone familiar with ghost stories understands that, in the end, all that matters is whether a ghost has been sighted, leaving the author little room to maneuver. Like all good stories, ghostly or not, there is a twist at the end of The Sleep Room. It’s a device that has been used before, and readers will have to decide for themselves whether it has been put to good use. The second measure of a good ghost story, however, is whether it delivers some wicked chills, and in that regard The Sleep Room, with its creepy narcosis treatment room, definitely succeeds. Alma Katsu is the author of The Taker and The Reckoning (both Gallery).
The Boston Globe
“Engrossing. Immensely satisfying.”
The New York Times Book Review
“A captivating historical series.”
The Washington Post
“If you’re looking for the best in popular fiction, Tallis is well worth seeking out.”
The Times (London)
murder mystery of great intelligence. A fascinating portrait of one of the most vibrant yet sinister series of fin-de-siecle Europe.”
From the Publisher
“Praise for the Max Liebermann mystery series:”
Kirkus Reviews
A remote psychiatric hospital in the 1950s is the perfect setting for progressive treatments...and paranormal activity. Young psychiatrist James Richardson is excited to be hired by the celebrated Dr. Hugh Maitland to work at Wyldehope Hall, a psychiatric hospital in a remote part of Suffolk. Since he has no attachments, Richardson doesn't think that the isolation of the place will bother him, and he's looking forward to learning about Richardson's unique treatment, in which disturbed patients are kept asleep for long periods. But he finds several aspects of the place unsettling, beginning with the air of secrecy surrounding many procedures. The imperious Sister Jenkins runs day-to-day operations with an iron hand. Her polar opposite is Mary Williams, who's loath to ask for help even when she twists an ankle. Richardson passes the time by playing chess with delusional patient Mr. Chapman, who maintains that the nurses move his bed at night, and entering into a covert affair with nurse Jane Turner. One night after sex, he sees what he can only describe as a ghost passing over the bed. Jane laughs it off, but Richardson is spooked. Mary begins to act erratically then disappears. Richardson decides to leave Wyldehope, a choice confirmed by a long meeting with his predecessor, Palmer. But the offer of a promotion and his deepening feelings for Jane cause him to change his mind, an impulsive move he later deeply regrets. Layering several familiar elements expertly, Tallis (Death and the Maiden, 2012, etc.) creates a deliciously creepy mood of neogothic suspense.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781605984766
  • Publisher: Pegasus
  • Publication date: 10/1/2013
  • Pages: 400
  • Sales rank: 787,627
  • Product dimensions: 5.60 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 1.50 (d)

Meet the Author

F. R.Tallisis a writer and clinical psychologist. Between 1999 and 2012, he has received or been nominated for numerous awards, including the New London
Writers’ Award, the Ellis Peters Historical Dagger, the Elle Prix de
Letrice, the Crime Writers’ Association Historical Dagger Award, and two
Edgar Allen Poe Awards. He lives in London.

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 22, 2014

    Good read

    This was a very good story. It pulled you in right from the start and was definatly a suprise ending. My only problem is that I paid 14.95 for a 199 page story. That is crazy. And I do wish that nook would say how many pages a book has. Even though I enjoyed the story I would not have paid that much for that size book.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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