Title: Perchance to Sleep
Genre: Romantic Suspense
What if you needed to lose forty pounds, but diets didn't work? What if you could fall asleep and not wake again until your body absorbed the extra weight without harm to you? How much would you be willing to pay?
These are the stakes as a woman with a secret past joins forces with an Army officer to locate her missing ex-lover. A hired killer follows their every move.
Sarah Kirk teaches zoology at a Dallas university. Her work is interrupted when the police arrive with news that Dr. Carl Gilman, her former lover, disappeared on the same night his Virginia lab was destroyed by arson. The authorities hope Sarah can direct them to Gilman, who telephoned her the night he vanished. Sarah missed the call and is unable to help.
The arsonist, Larry Dane, later attacks Sarah at home, trying to torture her into revealing Gilman's whereabouts. Sarah, who survived an abusive past that left two of her sisters dead, kills him.
Anxious to find answers, she agrees to help Major Matthew Kendall of Armed Forces Medical Intelligence track down Gilman, a geneticist who was doing DNA research funded by the Army. The trail leads them to a lab at Fort Detrick, outside of Washington, D.C. There, they learn that Gilman faked paperwork to obtain authorization to use specialized equipment.
A search of the Dane's apartment turns up slides that were stolen the night of the fire. The Army does its own examination and discovers one of the slides is from a human with a unique DNA profile. The profile would support the practical application of human hibernation, which has only been a theory until now.
The Army has been studying hibernation because of its enormous potential. If humans could be induced into a state of hibernation, wounded soldiers could be kept alive longer. Long-term space travel might be made possible by hibernation. Commercial applications include putting obese people into hibernation during which they can lose weight. The financial rewards of a breakthrough in hibernation studies suggest an explanation for Gilman's secrecy and disappearance.
Matt and Sarah are not alone in their investigation. A hired assassin nicknamed Fredo is stalking them. His orders are to locate Gilman and his research. Fredo's unnamed but elderly employer's frantic determination to obtain Gilman's work intrigues the assassin, who decides he may be able to profit from the data. Fredo kills two servicemen, stealing their identities, in order to get on the base at Fort Detrick.
Matt and Sarah negotiate their relationship. She learns to trust him, and they become lovers.
Gilman contacts Sarah, promising an explanation. Out of loyalty to him, she doesn't tell Matt. She agrees to meet with Gilman in secret outside an embassy reception.
Fredo follows Sarah but, when Matt interrupts the meet, shoots Gilman. As he dies, Gilman whispers strange words--Hindu Kush and Noshaq. Sarah learns the words refer to a remote mountain region in Afghanistan.
The Afghan connection worries Matt that Gilman might have been working on a biological weapon. Sarah disagrees. When the police find a note scribbled by Gilman, she begins to suspect that the tissue samples come from a race living in the Hindu Kush mountains. Assuming that a remote tribe evolved the capacity to hibernate as a survival mechanism in that frigid climate, she convinces Matt to pursue her theory by locating experts on Afghan tribes.
Matt's commanding officer, Colonel Frederick, is incensed by what he describes as a ridiculous line of inquiry and threatens discipline. Frederick rescinds Sarah's invitation to stay at Fort Detrick and dispatches Matt to follow up on the biological weapon theory.
Nils Sperber, an elderly lobbyist, and his beautiful young wife invite Sarah to become their house guest. Wanting to remain in the Washington area near Matt, Sarah accepts.
Sarah is assaulted by a teenage gang, but is saved by Fredo, who immediately disappears.
She pursues her hibernation theory. She learns that, centuries ago, soldiers in Alexander the Great's army reportedly deserted in the Hindu Kush region. Since that time, there have been fair-skinned people living on Noshaq. This is where the tale of Shangri-La originated.
Sperber invites Sarah and Matt to attend a diplomatic function at the Hay-Adams Hotel. While attending, Sarah is lured outside and kidnapped. She is taken to a laboratory in Bethesda where Matt's commanding officer, Colonel Frederick, confronts her. She learns he arranged for the arson, Gilman's murder and her kidnapping.
Colonel Frederick suffers from Alzheimer's and has been concealing the fact. When the U.S. entered Afghanistan, a team searching the remote mountain caves detonated a bomb, accidentally killing members of a blue-eyed, fair-skinned tribe. During the subsequent investigation, Colonel Frederick learned of local legends that these tribesmen hibernated through the winter. Frederick conceived a desperate plan to be put into a state of hibernation to preserve his life until an Alzheimer's cure can be discovered. He bribed Gilman to conduct studies on tissue samples to determine whether genetic manipulation might provide a viable solution.
Gilman's hunger for commercial profit prompted him to withhold data from Frederick. Gilman tried to contact Sarah, intending to use her zoology background to help locate the tribe. (that connection eludes me...zoology helps you locate people?)
When Frederick discovered Gilman was double-crossing him, he hired Dane, who made two mistakes: he set fire to the lab before securing Gilman, and he lingered to watch his fire. A student saw the blaze and called Gilman with the news. The geneticist realized Frederick was onto him and engineered his own disappearance.
After Sarah killed Dane, Frederick hired Fredo.
Fearful that Sarah was getting close, Frederick had her kidnapped, expecting Matt to follow. He plans to stage a homicide/suicide, using Sarah's violent background to suggest that she killed Matt and herself during a lover's quarrel.
Matt falls into the trap but, before the colonel can kill the lovers, Fredo shoots Frederick and takes off with the samples.
Sarah and Matt decide to marry and to lead a team into the Afghan mountains to locate the tribe.
Pretty snappy action but we get no sense of your voice here. If you have five good pages to lead off, I’d probably read this. The idea of a guy making his dying words a code is a bit um...over used at this point but fixable.
The resolution sounds like an information dump, as though someone explains it all at the end rather than Sarah and Matt figuring things out. I think that's a weakness in a novel.
Other than that, this is good.