Laura Chain lost her virginity on New Years Eve 1999 and was christened The First Woman of the Twenty-First Century by her now deceased punk rock singer boyfriend Johnny Enzyme. In her early-thirties and living in New York, she feels the magic of her youth fading away, until she meets John Halo, a mysterious British agent who gives her a chance to discover her life’s true meaning.
The story begins when Halo asks if she would help investigate Gregory Walden, a womanizing investment banker suspected of money laundering. Laura is intrigued by Halo’s proposal, hoping it might reconnect the fragments of her lost youth and create parallels with Marlene Dietrich in Dishonored and Ingrid Bergman in Notorious, activities worthy of The First Woman of the Twenty-First Century.
When she agrees to investigate the charming Gregory she must deceive her current boyfriend, biker/ex-con Jonathan Mace. With a romance that threatens to redefine her sense of self she is forced to confront her true loyalties, while discovering that Halo has hidden motives, the nature of which she vows to discover.
Stylistically comparable to Martin Amis’ London Fields and Don DeLillo’s Cosmopolis, The Sleep is darkly comic and rhapsodic in turns, a trenchant exploration of letting go of the past and confronting a new millennium dominated by cyber terrorism, bank fraud, and the rise of a new world order run by billionaire oligarchs.