When searching by title on Amazon for The Night No One Slept, TJ Martinell’s prequel to his previously (2018) published Prohibition-era novel The Men Who Walk Alone, it appears at the top of a page of books with advice for ensuring they and their newborn infants all get a a good night’s sleep.
“One of these things is not like the others” as the old saying goes. This novella is definitely not a sleep aid. The opening scene is sufficiently gruesome to keep new parents up at night and the reader engaged enough to not put this story down until he’s read it through to the end in one sitting.
Stories about prohibition-era Coppers and Gangsters survive–and at times thrive–in the American imagination–in its entertainment and art. One organized band of merry pranksters has even declared May 6th Talk Like a Prohibition-Era Gangster Day.
The Night No One Slept is a good quick read to get you ready for May 6th. One aspect of this novella that I thought particularly effective is that it’s a very short work and set over the course of a single night. Attempting to spread the action over multiple days in such a short work would have felt more like a summary, or a movie treatment, or a longer story that wasn’t fully fleshed-out. Instead, the author cleverly confines the action to a single terrible night, and it just works. There is enough sustained action and chains of events in the story that not only drives the plot and explains the events but also implies a much larger world which is presumably explored more fully in the longer work for which this is the prequel. I use “presumably” here only because I have not yet read The Men Who Walk Alone, but having been caught up in and entertained by this short work, now I pretty much have to. And soon.