Readers in search of suspense will find this novel aptly titled: like a carnival sideshow, it promises more than it delivers. Boston librarian Soleil Browne agrees to be a subject in ``Dreamscape,'' a sleep experiment in which dream states trigger an audiovisual display. Somehow--and the author never explains this adequately--Soleil's participation in the program sparks bizarre dreams that mentally transport her to 1932, where she bears witness to the traumatic life of an orphaned 12-year-old girl. Chapters about Soleil, who becomes obsessed with ``protecting'' the child, alternate with stories of the girl, called ``Shoe'' because she has been disfigured by a horse's kick to the face. LeClaire's ( Grace Point ) imaginative rendering of Depression-era life proves stronger than her cardboard, soap-opera version of present-day events. Still, plot devices loom from every direction--Soleil's mother has suffered a stroke; one of Dreamscape's doctors is Soleil's estranged lover; a serial killer nicknamed the ``Sweetheart Strangler'' is on the loose in the present--and practically nothing gels. It's only natural for readers to suspect that Shoe's life, Soleil's dreams, the comatose mother and the serial killer will magically converge at the climax; however, nothing so spectacular takes place, even when Leclaire draws comparisons between a homicidal child molester's pursuit of Shoe and the strangler's stalking of Soleil. Ultimately, the author's failure to provide even a sketchy scientific or psychic framework for her tale undermines its already shaky plot. Paperback rights to Signet. (Aug.)
When Soleil Browne, a librarian working in a Boston museum, agrees to participate in the Dreamscape project, she is annoyed to discover that the project's director is Dr. Andy McKay, a former love. In a series of haunting and terrifying dreams monitored by McKay, she enters a small town in 1930s Ohio and encounters Shoe, a 12-year-old girl whose face is permanently marred from an accident. Soleil's dream world and reality intermingle when Shoe is pursued by a sinister townsperson and Soleil finds that she, too, is being stalked. Although physically sickened by the dream experiences, Soleil realizes that she is Shoe's only hope for survival. Side Show is thrilling to the last surprise and equal to the author's recent Grace Point (LJ 6/15/92). Highly recommended for public libraries.-Heather Blenkinsopp, Mercy Coll. Lib., Dobbs Ferry, N.Y.
An experiment investigating sleep and dreams forms the link between two people. One is Soleil Browne, a reserved librarian in contemporary Boston; the other is Shoe Arnett, an abused farm girl in 1930s Ohio. The experiment, which tracks Soleil's dreams, draws her ever deeper into Shoe's world, in which she struggles desperately to help Shoe escape the dangers threatening her. In the meantime, Soleil also has her own difficulties, personal and professional, which interfere with her mission as an unseen voice of counsel to Shoe. LeClaire's taut control of an atmosphere of trepidation assures that there is always a suitably chilling backdrop to this expertly crafted horror novel.