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Are You Sleeping

by Kathleen Barber

Thriller and Suspense Books with reviews by our Reader Review Panel Crime and Mystery Debut Books of the Month Debuts eBooks of the Month

LoveReading Expert Review of Are You Sleeping

January 2018 Debut of the Month

Poppy Parnell is an investigative journalist who digs into a case thirteen years old and produces a couple of podcasts. The first interviews  the convicted murderer still claiming his innocence  of killing a history professor. The second talks to the detective who was first on the scene and found twin sisters locked in a bedroom.  We get the story through the eyes of one twin, now leading a new life with a new name.  The media frenzy whipped up by the podcast exposes the vulnerable family with tragic consequences which does eventually allow some reconciliation but not for all.  Simply written, highly addictive with the feel of a ‘young adult’ novel about it, this is a debut worth taking note of. Sarah Broadhurst

Sarah Broadhurst

Are You Sleeping Synopsis

Memory can be imperfect. The truth is always black and white. When a family man is killed at point blank range in his home, it shakes a sleepy town to its core. The murder is a strange, horrifying crime but for the authorities it's an open-and-shut case. Ten years on, the victim's daughter, Josie, has started afresh in New York - far from the tragic events that blew her family apart. No-one knows the truth about her previous life, not even her fiance. Investigative journalist Poppy is convinced the wrong man is in jail for the murder and she's determined to prove it. What starts off as a true-crime podcast snowballs into a national phenomenon and everyone has an opinion on the case. Poppy's relentless pursuit of the truth threatens to expose old secrets. Josie realises that her father's murder could have consequences more devastating than she had ever imagined. Are You Sleeping is an addictive debut psychological thriller for fans of Serial, Disclaimer and Luckiest Girl Alive.

About This Edition

ISBN: 9781509843008
Publication date: 27th December 2017
Author: Kathleen Barber
Publisher: Pan Books an imprint of Pan Macmillan
Format: Paperback
Pagination: 384 pages
Primary Genre Thriller and Suspense
Other Genres:
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Are You Sleeping Reader Reviews

In addition to our Lovereading expert opinion some of our Reader Review Panel were also lucky enough to read and review this title.

An intriguing psychological thriller.

I really enjoyed this book. It keeps you guessing with a nice little twist at the end. A definite page turner which you will not be able to put down. The very first few pages captured me. An excellent writer, I can't wait for her next book.

Celia Cohen

A brilliant murder mystery which will have you guessing even after the last page.

A great murder mystery story that had me intrigued from beginning to end. About two sisters who are split apart after the murder of their father. It hard to know who to believe they both tell lies. Lots of twists and turns especially from Poppy Parnell a journalist who has a podcast investigating the murder. I enjoyed the podcast and Twitter feed elements of the story.

I look forward to more from Kathleen Barber and wonder if Poppy Parnell will appear again in another story.


Kathryn Whitfield

What a great idea for a story – a man is murdered and the only witness is one of his twin daughters.

A murder reinvestigated through Facebook and podcasts.

A neighbour is convicted of the murder but thirteen years later the case is reopened by an investigative reporter and social media becomes instrumental in the re-examination of it. I really wanted to love this book but found it a clumsy read. There quite a few plot holes and so many adverbs they become annoying. I thought the use of social media would be refreshing but it was just a lazy way to advance the narrative. I can see it being a film, though, and America loving it.


Lorraine Blencoe

It was well written with well-defined characters. I thought it deserved the 5*.

A life moulded of lies, well Josie finds out the hard way that they can come back to bite you.

Josie Buhrman put her past behind her 12 years ago after the person who killed her father was imprisoned. She changed her surname and got on with her life. She met Caleb and they set up home together telling him nothing about her previous life but when a reporter starts to look into her father’s murder she starts to worry and then when she gets the call from her Aunt she knows she is going to have to return home for a while. She has already told Caleb all her family were dead so she can't tell him the truth so she lies again and says she is going for an aunt’s funeral.

I really enjoyed the podcasts littered around the book, it added to the feel of the storyline narrated by Josie it just gave a different perspective. 

Thank you to for my copy of the book.


Carol Peace

It's a page turner! With good character development, and good pacing. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys family based thrillers.

An easy to read thriller, that you won't want to put down!

The story is centred on a murder that happened 10 years ago. A journalist starts investigating the story through a series of blogs. This leads to the family and (public) questioning the conviction.

Alison Greenacre

This book is thought provoking in the way that one small thing can change everything. Would highly recommend to other readers.

I thoroughly enjoyed this debut thriller from Kathleen Barber, thought the characters and the characteristics of the twin girls was really interesting and the ending was expected but not expected (if you see what I mean).

Sue Burton

Well drawn characters and a good plot. I had to stay up to read the end – need I say more?

A ‘who dunnit’ and also a ‘why dunnit’ which was believable but gripping. I had to stay up to read the end – need I say more? A nice easy read and quite a page turner once into the storyline. A ‘who dunnit’ and also a ‘why dunnit’ which was believable but gripping. 

Stephanie Harding

A page turner from beginning to end. Keeps you guessing with its woven stories from Josie's tragic past. Skeletons are released from the cupboard uncovering new information about her father's death.

Great book which kept me guessing until about a third of the way through, then I did start to have my suspicions! Josie, the main character, is an extremely forgiving character who has to return to her tragic past life to face both family passed and those still living, neither of which her long term partner, Caleb, knows anything about. Skeletons are released from the cupboard and Josie is faced with new accusations about her father's untimely death and the whereabouts of her mother. With the release of a podcast, re-examining the death of Josie's father, she is presented with new information from both Poppy Parnell, investigative reporter, and her sister, Lanie. Who or what should she believe?! This book is a great page turner and will keep you intrigued until the very end!

Julie Evans

Murder, mystery & mayhem. Lies, intrigue and at the heart of the book a very dysfunctional family drama. This novel has it all. Very enjoyable and well written story. Highly recommended.

This book has it all! Murder, mystery, lies and intrigue and massive family

drama. I loved it. The characters were extremely well drawn and the writing flowed making it extremely easy to get into the story and stay involved with the plot. I particularly enjoyed the use of 'social media' throughout the book which helped to carry the story along and gave it a very current feel. The twist at the end was not entirely unexpected but it worked and gave a good closure to what was a thoroughly enjoyable read.

Michelle Hodson

Kathleen Barber brings a long closed murder mystery right up to date by successfully incorporating the tale into a social media format. I found this book really interesting, not just in adopting this new approach, but also in its good old-fashioned suspense.

A cold case murder mystery with a really unusual angle.

Set in a small mid-western town in Illinois America, the story explores the murder of Chuck Buhrman, and whether the man now serving time – Warren Cave – really is the guilty party. Utilising social media to the full, investigative reporter Poppy Parnell re-opens the case with her podcast. Immediately, the mystery is opened wide to international attention.

Narrated by Josie Buhrman, one of the murdered man’s twin daughters, this is the last thing she wants, having spent years trying to forget her family’s history and having woven a series of complicated lies about her past to her partner Caleb in order to create a new life. As everything seems to be falling apart around her, Josie has to face up to some difficult truths. Who really killed her father? Can Josie forgive her twin sister Lanie for betraying her, and can she come to terms with the closed cult lifestyle that her mother chose in preference to bringing up her twin daughters!

It brings into question whether this world-wide reach is justifiable, given its intrusiveness? But ultimately, it does play a significant part in finding the truth.

Lynne Morgan

Overall, this book kept me reading and kept me wanting to find out the truth of who killed Charles Buhrman. Kathleen Barber is a lady with potential.

Josie's father is murdered, her twin sister betrays her... Then a journalist drags the whole family into the public domain. Will the real truth come out this time?

This is a debut novel revelling in a family’s hidden secrets and betrayals, in particular regarding twin sisters, Josie and Lanie.

Their dad is murdered, and the neighbour next door accused of his murder, on the evidence of Lanie, the unreliable twin. Mum, following on from this, disappears into a cult.

The story is told from Josie’s point of view. She has spent over ten years trying to distance herself from her family, even changing her name, until her mother dies and a podcast surfaces, from a journalist intent on causing trouble, racking the whole matter up again. This is complicated by the fact that she hasn’t told her boyfriend any of this.It is an enjoyable read, with plenty of tension, but, unfortunately, somewhat predictable. It is part suspense, part thriller, part family tragedy and drama. One good twin, one not so good.

I’m not sure if I really liked Josie, but I certainly had time for her cousin, Ellen, and her mother. Both characters with plenty of bottle, needed in this family! I liked the way the author splits the story up with excerpts from the podcasts and social media, very modern.

Helen Lowry

A very modern psychological thriller, that is addictive, and difficult to put down.Kathleen Barber, writes crisp clear prose and her characters are complex. An author to watch.

Ten years after leaving her old life behind her, and having changed her last name, travelled the world and found love with her boyfriend Caleb, Josie's past returns to haunt her. Thirteen years ago her father was murdered. After a trial her teenage neighbour had been found guilty of his murder, but now blogger Poppy Parnell has been stirring things up by hosting a serial podcast about the case. Against her better judgement Josie listens in, and begins to doubt her sister’s evidence. Has an innocent man been jailed for her father’s murder after all?

A psychological thriller, with a mix of action and drama. An addictive debut, which I found hard to put down. A very modern whodunit.

Teresa O'Halloran

This book racks up the suspense from chapter one. There is no escaping the air of mystery and menace from the very beginning. I would highly recommend this book.

Josie, the narrator of the book has had quite a traumatic start to her relatively young life and now an investigative journalist is about to rake up many memories she has tried hard to seal off from her present mindset. Seal them off so effectively in fact that she is even living a lie to her steady live-in partner. The characters are drawn very well and alongside the main “whodunit” plot are weaved the interrelationships between the relatives in her past life and her present partner. Josie’s narrative is effectively interspersed with the journalists latest pod casts and some of the resultant twitter comments from her listeners. Thus it cleverly brings the classic elements of a murder mystery into the most modern of circumstances. The ending is perhaps not a “bombshell” as there are too few suspects involved for that, but it is still a surprising and cleverly conceived ending.

Gill Wilmott

The pace was very slow and seemed to wander round in circles with not much happening

I didn't really like this book.. None of the main characters were very likeable and I felt as if I didn't much care what happened to them. The way the Twitter and social media messages were interspersed with the story didn't move the plot on quickly entourage, although the whole point was the Podcast which reopened the murder investigation so social media played a large part. So, on this occasion, I would have to say that it's not one I would recommend.

Evelyn Love - Gajardo

Are You Sleeping Press Reviews

Are You Sleeping will more than likely keep you up all night as this most compelling suspenseful novel unfolds. A classic whodunit gets a very clever modern treatment that left this reader's heart racing right up to the last page.  Liz Nugent, author of Lying in Wait

I couldn't turn the pages fast enough . . . a terrific debut    Jenny Blackhurst, author of Before I Let You In

Tense, clever, addictive    Paula Daly, author of The Mistake I Made

Other editions of this book

ISBN: 9781509843008
Publication date: 27/12/2017
Format: Paperback

ISBN: 9781509842988
Publication date: 10/08/2017
Format: Paperback

ISBN: 9781508234012
Publication date: 01/08/2017
Format: Ebook

View All Editions

About Kathleen Barber

Kathleen Barber was raised in Galesburg, Illinois. She graduated from the University of Illinois and Northwestern University School of Law, and previously practiced bankruptcy law at large firms in Chicago and New York. When she's not writing, Kathleen enjoys travelling the world with her husband.

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