Don’t Go to Sleep

Written by Bryce Moore
Review by Gail M. Murray

Moore has written a chilling true-crime novel based on a series of actual murders that took place in 1918 New Orleans—gruesome attacks by a man wielding an axe who murdered his victims as they slept. The common link: They are all Italians running grocery stores. Our heroine, 17-year-old Gianna is still experiencing trauma and nightmares resulting from her parents being attacked and injured seven years ago. Is it the same killer? As her recurring nightmares intensify, she seeks clarity from a fortune teller, Signora Caravaggio, who warns her of “sickness and death, not just from illness.” The Great War is raging in Europe, and an epidemic of the Spanish Flu is reaching its peak in the city. Gianna fancies herself a Nancy Drew and, along with her best pal, researches the cases, even appearing at the scene of a crime and picking up a Spanish coin—a picayune. Holding it, she has visions of blood splashing, feeling the rage of the axman. For me this required some suspension of disbelief. At the police station she is questioned by Pinkerton detective, Etta Palmer, who, sensing Gianna is in peril, places police outside Gianna’s parents’ store/home.

The author excels at creating suspense and tension and describing grisly details. The relationship between the two teens is endearing. At 320 pages, it may be too long for young adult readers and is at times repetitious. Will all the clues and visions lead to a horrid confrontation between our heroine and the ax murderer? Will she get out alive, whole in mind and body?