REVIEW: NIGHT NIGHT, SLEEP TIGHT, BY HALLIE EPHRON

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Our story opens in 1985, with screenwriter Arthur Unger pondering his life….and trying to decide what to do next.

His brilliant career is behind him, beginning with all the award-winning scripts he had written with his partner/wife Gloria. His daughter Deirdre is still angry about the car accident that crippled her, and his son Henry seems to lack ambition. He spends his days lazing about, smoking various substances.

Arthur plans to sell his Beverly Hills home, but it probably won’t bring a lot. It is smaller than the more trendy homes and is somewhat of a shambles. His daughter is coming up from San Diego to help get it ready for sale.

Before the night is over, Arthur will be dead…and when his daughter finds his body the next morning after she arrives, there will be many questions. And strangely, she cannot find the people who could substantiate her alibi.

Night Night, Sleep Tight: A Novel of Suspense is captivating, and it takes us back to Old Hollywood and the fabulous world of stars, like Bunny Nichol, whose abusive boyfriend was killed one night in 1963–presumably by her daughter Joelen. Mysteriously, Deirdre was there that night…the night she had her car accident.

Questions about the past seem to overwhelm them…and as Deirdre starts her own investigation, she discovers so many things that were hidden from her. Did a mysterious fire in Arthur’s garage/office, two days after his death, somehow connect to the past and what happened to Arthur? And what is the meaning of the old photographs she discovers, along with a couple of other mysterious objects? Why did she find her mother’s prayer beads in the office after the fire?

Deirdre has discovered her father’s memoir in manuscript form, and as she reads, she realizes that her father’s view of the past is “selective memory colored by an oversized ego,” but that it does not detract from the fact that he and Gloria were in much demand in those early years. The prose stirs up memories for her, and some of them are good. But there are more unanswered questions as she reads further.

Uncovering the secrets and lies might not come fast enough, however, and this page-turning mystery kept me riveted, even as I savored the glow of Old Hollywood and its glamour. Misdirection and red herrings kept me from guessing what would ultimately happen. 5 stars.

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