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Friday, September 27, 2019


“The Second Sleep” is well worth reading as it takes us on an adventurous ride where virtually nothing is what it seems. (Review by Barry Meehan)

Robert Harris, the author of The Second Sleep is a best-selling author with a dozen novels to his name, including Fatherland, Enigma, Archangel, Pompeii, The Ghost, The Fear Index, An Officer and a Spy (which won four prizes including the Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction), Conclave and his most recent work, Munich. Several of his books have been filmed, including The Ghost, which was directed by Roman Polanski. His work has been translated into 37 languages, which goes to show that Mr Harris certainly knows how to construct a novel.

Harris has been referred to as “The Master of the Intelligent Thriller” by The Times of London. The Second Sleep” is certainly an intelligent thriller, and one needs to keep one’s wits about one while reading it. It is not recommended that this novel should be read in bed as one is falling asleep, as you would be bound to miss some clue which might explain exactly what is going on.

When one starts reading, it would appear that The Second Sleep is a historical novel set in England a good few centuries back – in fact “the ninth of April in the Year of Our Risen Lord 1468.” I do not intend this as a spoiler alert, but it is the first clue that needs to be taken into account during the journey of young priest Christopher Fairfax to a remote Exmore village to conduct the funeral of his predecessor, Father Lacy, who used to spend most of his time exploring and digging up artefacts around the village – coins, fragments of glass, human bones etc.

Father Lacy did not return from one of his “digs” by nightfall one day, as was his custom, and his body was found a few days later by inhabitants of the village. The cause of his death has been put down to an accidental fall, but is everything as it seems?

Fairfax – who was intending to conduct the funeral service then return to his base in Exeter immediately afterwards - determines instead to investigate the death more thoroughly, and is soon drawn more deeply into the isolated community, not at all sure who can be trusted to assist him in his quest, and who might be hindering it, not wanting the truth to come out, whatever that truth might be.

The further the investigation takes Fairfax, the more complex the task becomes, and he gets into a situation where everything he has been led to believe in – his faith, his person, and even the history of the world he lives in, is sorely tested.

The Second Sleep is well worth reading as it takes us on an adventurous ride where virtually nothing is what it seems. Highly recommended.

The Second Sleep is published by Penguin. ISBN#: 978-1-78-633138-0. Recommended retail price: R290.00 – Barry Meehan