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Sleep with Slander by Dolores Hitchens

Title: Sleep with Slander (Jim Sader #2)

Author: Dolores Hitchens

First published in 1960; republished by Library of America on 6th July 2021

Genre: Mystery and Thrillers | Noir

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Rating: 5 out of 5.

Dolores Hitchens wrote two mysteries featuring Private Investigator Jim SaderSleep with Strangers and Sleep with Slander. Both these books have been republished by Library of America.

Jim Sader is managing a few cases on his own. His partner Dan was grievously injured by the killer in Sleep with Strangers and is currently on a (recuperation) vacation with his aunt. Mr. Gibbings approaches Sader and asks him to find his daughter’s illegitimate child. The daughter was engaged to be married to an army man; the man died on duty leaving behind young Kit Gibbings pregnant. Since the child was born out of wedlock, Mr. Gibbings forced his daughter to give it away(adoption). He’s now received a letter stating the child is being abused and the old man should do something about it.

If you have read my review of Sleep with Strangers, you would know I mentioned black-and-white scenes with Jazz music playing in the background. Well, Noirs and Jazz go hand-in-hand, right? However, the noir-ish element is a tad less in Sleep with Slander and is replaced by “Good ol’ detective word” and suspense. If I have to choose a favorite in this series, I would definitely say Sleep with Slander. Be it the suspense or the mystery behind the missing young boy or well-hidden family secrets, Sleep with Slander is a lot better than most of the modern mysteries.

As the story begins, Jim is sent on a wild goose chase. He’s to find a young boy whose adoptive parents are dead. The Champlains adopted the little boy soon after he was born. Two years ago, Mr. Champlains died in a plane crash and his wife drowned while on a boating trip with friends. The young boy was taken away by relatives and is currently being abused. In Sleep with Slander, we get to see the ‘concerned and caring’ side of Jim Sader – he wants to find the little boy before it is too late; every time he sits down to eat, he remembers the little boy – “the little boy must be scared, cold and hungry while here I am, enjoying a plate of fries and burgers.”

Halfway through the story, Sader realizes there’s a much more to the story than just a missing boy. Well-hidden secrets of the two families – Gibbings and Champlains – are slowly revealed and Sader is angry at being deceived by a client. The second half of the story has a couple of domestic violence scenes – thankfully nothing much of the abuse the little boy is currently going through. The spotlight is not only on finding the missing boy but also understanding the kind of life his mother led. It is up to Sader to but the bits and pieces of information he uncovers and rescue the little boy.

Sleep with Slander by Dolores Hitchens is one of the best mystery classics I have ever read. Excellent storytelling, well-maintained suspense and impressive character development. If you are a mystery lover, I highly recommend you to give this book a read.


I received an ARC from Library of America and NetGalley in exchange for an honest and unbiased opinion.

4 thoughts on “Sleep with Slander by Dolores Hitchens Leave a comment

  1. Like you, I very much enjoyed this book and deem it one if the very best mysteries I have read. Good mystery/puzzle, several characters that one actually cares about, sustained tension with a few episodes of strong suspense, a handful of emotionally gripping and extremely memorable scenes, … it’s all there! A near-masterpiece.

    • I totally agree. Like the scene where Sader finds a box full of knitted stuff – he never realized he was searching for the ‘wrong’ baby until the lady told him of Mrs Champlain’s baby girl. Also, the father-son’s violent relationship makes one wonder if they are the ones abusing the child.
      When I first started reading this book, I was thinking “it’s just a case of missing child”. Turns out, it was more than just a missing child.

  2. I have read a few by Hitchens under two of her pennames. Not read any as late as this one. Glad you enjoyed this one and hope you get to read more by her.

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