Rocky Mountain News Review


Sleeping Policemen
By Dale Bailey and Jack Slay, Jr.(Golden Gryphon, $24.95).
Grade: B

Golden Gryphon is one of the finest small presses specializing in science fiction and fantasy. Thus, Sleeping Policemen is a departure for the company in two ways: first, it's a horror story, and second, as a novel, it's a rare exception from the mission of Gryphon's founder, the late Jim Turner: "to publish handsome, quality books of short story collections by today's master writers and tomorrow's rising stars." However, it's easy to tell it's published by the company in at least one way: The remarkable wraparound dust jacket painted by John Picacio and the quality cloth binding is far superior to books produced by larger companies.

The narrative begins when three college friends who have indulged in a night of drinking accidentally run over a pedestrian on a lonely mountain highway. To the men, it feels as if they have passed over a speed bump, thus the title Sleeping Policemen, a nickname for those annoying bumps in the road.

When they go back to see what they hit, they discover thousands of dollars in hundred-dollar bills and a mysterious key in the pockets of the dead man's coat. The driver and his friend come from extremely wealthy families, but to Nick Laymon, their cash-poor crony, the money means a chance at graduate school and a different life. And all three are curious about the key.

Better they had left both in the dead man's coat. Eventually, they find that the key opens a bus station locker, and inside the locker they find a videotape of the vicious rape and murder of a missing debutante. In the 24 hours that follow, the boys and Nick's girlfriend will be harassed by a ne'er-do-well midget private detective, a crooked state trooper, and a Jabba-the-Hut lookalike underworld kingpin known as the Pachyderm, who not only wants his money back, but thinks that Nick's girlfriend would be just fine as the star of another snuff video.

Sleeping Policemen is a graphic and nasty novel, not for the squeamish. The biggest problem with the story is finding someone to root for. While the antagonists are really scum, the protagonists aren't particularly admirable either.

— Mark Graham, Rocky Mountain News, August 25, 2006


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