A Thousand Steps

A Thousand Steps
A Thousand Steps by T. Jefferson Parker

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Are you Sleeping? ( Truth be Told) by Kathleen Barber- Feature and Review


Serial meets Ruth Ware’s In A Dark, Dark Wood in this inventive and twisty psychological thriller about a mega-hit podcast that reopens a murder case—and threatens to unravel the carefully constructed life of the victim’s daughter.

The only thing more dangerous than a lie...is the truth.

Josie Buhrman has spent the last ten years trying to escape her family’s reputation and with good reason. After her father's murder thirteen years prior, her mother ran away to join a cult and her twin sister Lanie, once Josie’s closest friend and confidant, betrayed her in an unimaginable way. Now, Josie has finally put down roots in New York, settling into domestic life with her partner Caleb, and that’s where she intends to stay. The only problem is that she has lied to Caleb about every detail of her past—starting with her last name.

When investigative reporter Poppy Parnell sets off a media firestorm with a mega-hit podcast that reopens the long-closed case of Josie’s father’s murder, Josie’s world begins to unravel. Meanwhile, the unexpected death of Josie’s long-absent mother forces her to return to her Midwestern hometown where she must confront the demons from her past—and the lies on which she has staked her future.



Are You SleepingAre You Sleeping by Kathleen Barber
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Are you Sleeping (Truth be Told) by Kathleen Barber is a 2017 Gallery Books publication.

Highly suspenseful psychological thriller!

I received a newsletter/ email from one of the many book related sites I subscribe to, I can’t remember which one- but they highly recommended a book called ‘Truth be Told’ which will soon be adapted into a miniseries for Apple TV. When I went to Goodreads to see how well the book was received, I didn’t find it right away. A little digging revealed the book was originally published under a different title- “Are you Sleeping”

As it turns out, I already had this book on my Kindle, but as so often happens, it slid down on my TBR list a long while back. So, I pulled it up, intending to only sample a few chapters, and before I knew it, I was halfway through it.

True Crime Podcasts are all the rage, and have been instrumental in helping solve cold cases, or in casting doubt on the guilt of a prime suspect or the person currently serving time for a crime they may not have committed. As such, the premise of this book is timely, capitalizing on a very hot trend.

In this case, ruthless crime reporter, Poppy Parnell, the host of a true crime podcast, begins poking around in the murder investigation of one Charles Buhrman. When Poppy challenges the eyewitness accounts, going so far as to suggest the man sent to prison for the murder might, in fact, be innocent, the podcast goes viral almost immediately. Everyone is talking about it.

But for Charles’ daughter, Josie- the podcast becomes her worst nightmare. After her father’s death, she left home, changed her name and started a new life. Now with the popularity of Poppy’s podcast, hurling the lurid details of her father’s murder into the public’s consciousness again, her hard won battle for privacy is skating on thin ice.

Then she gets a phone call explaining that her estranged mother, who had joined a cult after her husband was killed, has died, forcing Josie to return home and face the past she has been running from for over a decade…

As much as she is loath to think about her messy family situation and the awful events surrounding her father’s murder, deep down Josie is worried Poppy might be right. What really happened the night Charles Buhrman was murdered? Could there have been a mistake? Is the wrong man in prison? Is the real killer still out there?

The tension in this book is thick- not just from the mystery surrounding the murder, but from all the family drama and the prickly situation Josie finds herself in with her fiancĂ©, who knew nothing of her past. I’m always a sucker for deep dark family secrets and betrayals, and stunning revelations. On top of that, cold case mysteries are one of my favorite crime tropes, which explains why I was so easily pulled into this drama.

As engrossing as the story was, it was probably impossible to fully prevent one from developing a strong suspicion about the ultimate big reveal. I guessed it in advance, but the author left me twisting in the wind almost to the bitter end before finally letting all the missing pieces to click into place.

Normally, that wouldn’t be such a bad thing, but in this case, the author waited a bit too long to lock in the final puzzle piece, which under the circumstances, was anticlimactic, and a little too convenient, as well.

However, I still enjoyed the story. It was a fast read- in a good way- and was very absorbing and atmospheric.

Overall, this is an impressive debut novel and I think Kathleen Barber is an author we’ll want to keep our eyes on.






Kathleen Barber's first novel ARE YOU SLEEPING is being adapted for television by Reese Witherspoon's Hello Sunshine. Kathleen was raised in Galesburg, Illinois, and is a graduate of the University of Illinois and Northwestern University School of Law. She lives in Washington, DC, with her husband and son. FOLLOW ME is her second novel.

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