Sunday, February 6, 2011

If I Should Die Before I wake – Sherwood King

I had big plans for this afternoon and have somehow procrastinated it all away to the point where I’m beginning to wonder a) really – why can’t I get my act together, and b) what am I going to do about moving all the cloths from my bed so I can sleep on it. They’re clean so the floor really isn’t an appropriate resting place, but there are such a lot of them that I might well be up until midnight putting them away (certainly will be the case if I carry on at this pace).

If I Should Die Before I wake’ on the other hand was a much needed quick read. Only 150 pages long it’s full on, hard boiled, noir thriller. Just what the doctor ordered, or surely would have been if I had a book prescribing doctor and had visited, and what on earth am I talking about now? Anyway it’s been a long week and a good, fast, clever book was a welcome distraction/restorative. At times it was a slightly over the top treat but I’m not the woman to mind that.

We see everything through the eyes of Laurence, he’s been taken on as a chauffeur by the wealthy but war damaged Mark Bannister – who just happens to be married to a stunning young red head (always trouble) it’s also a very sultry August and Laurence, who got his job after his boss saw him emerging from the sea one day after a swim bought him to the Bannister’s private beach, is about to get way out of his depth. Much of his chauffer work is taken up with transporting Bannister’s business partner - Lee Grisby – between Long Island and the city, and the conversation has a nasty habit of turning to murder...

Laurence isn’t as bright as he thinks he is, but he’s not as dumb as Grisby hopes he is either so when Laurence is offered $5000 to help Grisby fake his own death by pretending to shoot him he knows there has to be a catch. Of course there’s a catch and I’m itching to reveal it, but like a good girl I’ll leave well alone. It’s pretty clear to the reader who the villain is but not to the police who have a very odd little mystery on their hands – nothing quite adds up but Laurence has admitted to a murder he didn’t commit and is sitting on death row. Even the reader doesn’t know if the real culprit will be caught (well not unless they skip to the last page) and I thought it was a clever as well as twisty plot – very nearly the perfect murder.

I have no idea who Sherwood King was, or even if I’m talking about a man or a woman – a quick google hasn’t enlightened me and sadly my Penguin modern classic edition comes without an introduction so no information there either (bad show Penguin). I would love to know more so if anyone can enlighten me please do.


  1. It sounds as though you and I were having the same sort of day yesterday. I have such great plans and then they seem to evaporate around me. Part of my problem is that I make more plans than I have the day to fill, if that makes any sort of sense at all, and in a panic none of them get fulfilled. I could do with a book that isn't going to ask a lot of me at the moment, having just come out of a very dense William Trevor. This might be just the answer.

  2. This sounds a good book, and just short and long enough to keep it interesting especially when the whole week seems against you!

  3. Annie - it makes perfect sense, I forget (or at least this is my explination) that by day off time I'm tired so have this long list of tasks and no energy so not much hope of getting through them.

    Josbookjourney - I can read almost anything if it's short enough!

  4. This sounds fantastic! I am going to see if the library has it. What a shame that you can't find out much about the author - I am clueless myself, I'm afraid!

  5. See Orson Welles's THE LADY FROM SHANGHAI sometime. It's based on that book.