Wednesday 26 October 2016

Thriller: The Nightwalker by Sebastian Fitzek

Sphere, €11.75

Published 05/09/2016 | 02:30

The Nightwalker by Sebastian Fitzek
The Nightwalker by Sebastian Fitzek

Leon wakes one morning to find his wife packing to leave. Natalie is bruised and terrified. What has he done to her?

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Leon can’t remember, but as a child he suffered from sleep paralysis and night terrors. Could they be coming back?

His old therapist assures him not, but Natalie doesn’t return and no one knows where she is.

Leon starts to fear the worse when he finds a bloody thumbnail in his apartment. Did he murder her in his sleep and hide the evidence?

As the divide between waking and sleeping rapidly breaks down, Leon himself starts to fall apart. He loses days from his life. His possessions go missing. He finds a door in the wall that wasn’t there before.

On the other side is a series of tunnels from which he can access his neighbours’ homes. Also there is Natalie’s mobile phone.

He takes to filming himself to discover what he’s doing when he sleeps, and barely understands the behaviour he sees on the video.

The Nightwalker is the latest book by German bestselling crime writer Sebastian Fitzek, and the film rights, unsurprisingly, have already been sold.

It’s a claustrophobic, nightmarish work, with a powerful undercurrent of dread that recalls a horror story as much as the psychological thriller promised by the marketing.

 Echoes of Kafka abound. For most of the book, the reader is alone with Leon, with no more understanding than him of what’s going on.

The prose is stark and bare, adding to the menace. That it’s all told so matter of factly makes the final twists even more shocking.

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