Friday 1 January 2010

Sleep With Me review

Sleep With Me was an intriguing choice for ITV 1’s New Year’s Eve drama production. Billed as an erotic thriller, it had a very good pedigree – adapted by the legendary Andrew Davies from a novel by Joanna Briscoe – and a good cast, headed by the reliable Adrian Lester. And it was the type of psychological suspense story that writers such as Nicci French do so well.

The basic premise is that Richard, a journalist and would-be novelist, and Lelia have a seemingly perfect relationship, but their lives are invaded by an apparently mousy (yet at the same time smouldering and intense!) French woman, Sylvie, who has literary ambitions of her own. She seduces Richard, rather improbably I thought, but her real target turns out to be Lelia. And then it emerges that she and Lelia have a shared past, which includes a tragic secret.

I found Sleep With Me to be watchable, and I didn’t regret following it to the end, even though the final plot developments didn’t seem especially credible or satisfying. A harsher view might be that it was neither erotic nor thrilling. The real problem, I think, was that the motivation of Sylvie was ambiguous, and unsatisfactorily conveyed. Maybe the ambiguity was intentional, but maybe it resulted from an uncertainty about characterisation. This impression of uncertainty meant that Sleep with Me was an okay drama, rather than attaining the levels of excellence so often associated with Andrew Davies.

So that’s my reading and viewing for 2009 done. Much more is to come in 2010 – in the meantime, my very best wishes go to all readers and writers of crime fiction for the year ahead, and especially to those who are kind enough to spare some of their time to take a look at this blog.


Anonymous said...

Martin - I always enjoy learning from your blog; you've always got such interesting things to say! I know what you mean about Sylvie's motivations and Richard's behavior. I've found if a character's behavior isn't believable, it's hard to "get into" a movie.

Minnie said...

Well done you, Martin, for staying 'till the end! I found the book unreadable, not least for the reasons you identify. And none of the characters were especially appealing - i.e. I didn't care what happened to them - + the plot was rather gothic-y and contrived. Bit like Maggie O'Farrell (similarly overwrought and overwritten - more than a tad much ado about nowt).
Bah! Don't like knocking copy, so will shut up.
Just wish you and all your other readers health, happiness and success in 2010.

Maxine Clarke said...

A very happy new year to you, Martin. I am looking forward to reading your excellent blog, and of course The Serpent's Pool, in 2010!
I did not watch this programme partly becuase the younger residents would have been embarrassed to be in the same room as their aged parents for it, I suspect; partly because the preview in the Times warned me off; and partly because there was a late run on the idea of watching Day of the Triffids on i-player. Having watched part 1, I am asking myself, "why did I bother, I should have preferred re-re-rereading the book." I am a bit stuck as to whether to watch part 2 or not, I feel a bit bad leaving Bill and his friend in a forest full of triffids at the "end of part 1" cliffhanger...but the trailer (shown at the end of part 1) featuring Vanessa Redgrave in a nun's outfit does not bode well....

Dorte H said...

It is a pleasure to read your blog (though not quite as good as reading your books).

Happy New Year, Martin!

achoiceofweapons said...

Greetings from Long Beach, California! Happy New Year! I will take a look at this film. I am not familiar with Andrew Davies work but I'm up for a new challenge.
God (IAM) Bless in the new year.

Paul Beech said...

Hi Martin,

And a Happy New Year to you!

I followed your link to Kerrie’s ‘Mysteries in Paradise’ yesterday and popped on my top ten crime fiction reads of 2009. In doing so I realised – not for the first time – how much my appreciation and enjoyment of the genre has been enhanced through your website and blog. It was there I first heard about Ann Cleeves, Sophie Hannah and Benjamin Black, and I included a novel by each in my top ten.

An inclusion I came across purely by chance, browsing the shelves of the100 year old Brunner Library in Northwich, was ‘Dead Sight’ by Glenn Chandler. I thought, “Where’ve I heard that name before?” Then it came to me – Taggart! Of course, it was Chandler who created the long-running, award-winning police drama for Scottish Television.

‘Dead Sight’, which I read with enjoyment over Christmas, was Chandler’s second murder mystery featuring DI Steve Madden of Brighton CID. Of course Madden is not Jim Taggart (or Matt Burke, for that matter), nor is Brighton quite like Glasgow. Madden is an engaging character but still severely traumatised and irrationally guilt-ridden over the horrific murder of his only son Jason some months earlier (in the previous book, ‘Savage Tide’). And his love life is all over the place with his ex-wife Clara pulling him one way and his half-Asian mistress, DS Jasmine Carol, pulling him the other.

An ageing clairvoyant, Lavinia Roberts, tells Madden about a young man calling himself David, who she’d given a reading to the evening before. She’d sensed great evil in David and believed him to be “a serial killer in embryo.” A few days later the killing began, with Lavinia Roberts the first victim…

The hunt for the killer leads Madden and Jasmine into Brighton’s occult world and New Age community with witches, Tarot cards and holistic therapy. The tension mounts with the approach of Lewes Bonfire. ‘Dead Sight’ is a good knockabout yarn with perhaps a few pearls of wisdom. I like this: “Murder is such a terrible act that it distorts the whole fabric of space around a person.”

Anyway, I hope you’ve enjoyed your festive reading too, Martin, as well as your festive viewing. I look forward to publication of ‘The Serpent Pool’ in February and shouldn’t be surprised if this, or ‘Dancing for the Hangman’ (or both!), will feature amongst my top ten reads of 2010.

I note, by the way, that you were contributing to a book about best crime fiction locations to be published in 2010. Any news on this? I’m sure many readers will want to look out for it.

All the best,


Martin Edwards said...

Many thanks for these comments and best wishes to all of you. A couple of specific replies will follow.

Martin Edwards said...

Maxine, I was tempted by Day of the Triffids, because I am a long standing Wyndham fan. One of my friends was once his literary executor, but to my astonishment, never read any of his books!
I opted for Sleep With Me, because I didn't know the story and was intrigued by the premise (and hadn't seen The Times preview!) Minnie's comment about the book it was based on speaks for itself. Last new year we were luckier, with a brilliant new Jonathan Creek story.

Martin Edwards said...

Paul, Glenn Chandler's early Taggart scripts are among my all time favourite tv detective shows. But I haven't yet read his novels, though I have read one true crime book of his.
The scenes of crime book will not be published for some time, I suspect, probably towards the end of this year.
Thanks for your kind words about the blog - equally, I do value your comments very much. All the best for 2010.