Don’t Wake Up is a psychological thriller set in Britain’s medical circles. It’s refreshing and intriguing but suffers badly from a stereotyped cast of characters. The unfolding of Liz Lawler’s plot is what keeps one reading, more so than the familiar characters or the disappointing ending.
When Doctor Alex Taylor wakes up to find herself strapped to a hospital bed, her initial thoughts of injury are swept aside by the man holding her captive and threatening to perform surgery on her unless she answers a specific question. When she is later found unconscious in the hospital car park, no one believes her story, nor her cries of torment as she is now harassed by her former captor.
Taylor’s slow decline, the police investigation, and the ongoing clues that only Taylor can see all combine to create a wonderfully fresh mystery. Lawler makes the most of her years as a nurse to provide a great sense of authenticity in the settings and action. Her ability to slowly unravel the curious case of Alex Taylor makes for a page turner once the story gets going.
Lawler’s writing style is an easy read and she had an ability to bring a scene to life with her descriptive prose. Unfortunately, she isn’t so successful in her characterisations which all seem to be clichés of the genre. No personalities stand out any more than the others, and we’ve seen all the character dynamics before: the struggling heroine, the loyal best friend, the frustrated boyfriend, the fastidious co-worker, the policeman with a romantic interest, etc etc. It makes for an uninspired slog at the beginning, with the exception of the opening scene. The climax also begins with a nice twist but devolves into something predictable and goes on far too long after that final surprise.
If not for her clever premise, Don’t Wake Up would not be anywhere near as enjoyable as it is.
Reviewed by Rod Lewis
Rating out of 10: 6
Distributed by: Allen & Unwin
Released: February 2018
RRP: $29.99 paperback