On a night in Tangier, Harry prepares a birthday dinner for his wife Robin, while nearby, three-year-old Dillon resists the cup of warm milk his father has made for him.
Dillon regularly resists sleep, and occasionally Harry has added a small dose of a sleeping pill to the boy’s milk. That night, the boy does sleep, and is still sleeping soundly when Harry recalls that he has left Robin’s gift at the shop just five minutes away. Hesitating, he then plunges into the night, alone, leaving the boy behind….
That risk, that erroneous choice…sets in motion a disastrous series of events, beginning with an earthquake, a crumbled building, and the presumption of Dillon’s death.
Years later, in Dublin again, the couple struggles. Harry is remote, devoted to his art. Robin is bogged down with her own secrets…and then on a street nearby, a protest march slows down Harry’s progress after running errands, and he sees him. He is sure of it! There is Dillon, walking away with a woman wearing a blue scarf.
And the journey begins again, after years of struggling, of disbelief. Harry has never believed that Dillon died, since no body was found.
Robin has just discovered she is pregnant again, so in the aftermath of that news, Harry does not mention the sighting. Instead, he follows clues, finds footage of the street, and persists in seeking answers.
What transpired over the next few months kept this reader rapidly turning pages, asking what could have happened? Is it possible that, as others believe, Harry is delusional? Has his grief taken over and claimed him? Or has he made a discovery that could resolve his grief at last? Why is Robin pondering moments from the past, asking herself questions about something she did, a betrayal she committed…and then, as everything comes together in one final confrontation, we are stunned. Holding our breath. Who will be left standing? Will there be peace at last?
A captivating story, The Innocent Sleep: A Novel is not for those who like figuring out the answers before the culmination. Even as I could put together some of the pieces early on, they did not coalesce seamlessly. Narrated in the alternating voices of Harry and Robin, we gradually come to know each of them, through flashbacks and moments in the present. But then, at the end, another surprising voice joins them.
The final chapter felt like it did not fit with the rest of the story. In the aftermath of disaster, there is usually emotion. Instead, the story leaps ahead, back to Tangier, and nothing seems to be resolved. Perhaps this is like life, but, in fact, I just felt cheated. Four stars.