'Splendid . . . this absorbing topical tale . . . has the master stamp . . . in pace, ingenuity, coherence, it is completely assured, and with the special Priestley slant of wry observation.' - Evening Standard
'The Shapes of Sleep is not easy to describe, but there is no doubting its quality, in which gaiety and sanity are matched by invention . . . you must read this entertaining fiction; and no doubt you will.' - John Davenport, Observer
Mild-mannered Ben Sterndale is an out-of-work investigative reporter who likes nothing better than a quiet evening at home with an eighteenth-century novel and a classical music record. But when he is hired to locate a document stolen from a London advertising agency, he quickly finds himself embroiled in a deadly game of international intrigue. By the time he traces the missing paper to a rare stamp dealer, the man is already dead, and the only clue is the cryptic phrase 'the shapes of sleep', uttered with his dying breath. The trail leads Sterndale to Berlin, a divided city where shadowy figures from both East and West are desperate to get their hands on the shapes of sleep. But what are they, and why are so many people willing to kill for them? Are they some kind of weapon, part of a Communist plot, or something even more sinister than Sterndale can possibly imagine?
An unusual mix of spy thriller, existential mystery, and wry social commentary, J. B. Priestley's The Shapes of Sleep (1962) is a page-turner that will keep readers guessing until the final page. This edition, the first in almost 20 years, includes a new introduction by Rod Slater.
J. B. Priestley
black & white illustrations
black & white illustrations
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This novel is Priesltey at his best. We meet Ben Sterndale, a cynical fact-gathering reporter, who accepts a job from a powerful business tycoon in order to find out information about "The Shapes of Sleep", which turn out to have been discovered by a communist professor of experimental psychology. The "shapes of sleep" are geometrical shapes which have a hypnotic effect on the populace and could form a deadly weapon of mass mind-control if used by politicians or marketers. There are enough twists and turns here to satisy any devotee of detective or spy novels, and the book contains a considerable amount of satire of the foibles of the modern age (with a dash of romance added for good measure). A very enjoyable read!
Ben Sterndale, a 42-year old journalist out of a job, is the unusual hero of this action packed story. His good friend, an executive with a London advertising agency, has retained him to track down an enigmatic sheet of green paper which had been stolen from the desk of the agency's chief. With little more to go on than a list of the visitors who had access to the desk, Ben sets out on the search. His first stop is at a hospital in which an elderly philatelist lies dying; and from there on Ben encounters a host of peculiar birds, seductive women, cloak-and-dagger types, and enough fast action to satisfy the most demanding of search-and-adventure novel devotees.
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