Weird Tales Review

SLEEPING POLICEMEN by Dale Bailey and Jack Slay Jr. (Golden Gryphon Press, $24.95)

Does a weird story have to have a supernatural or para­normal explanation? Lovecraft argued that William Faulkner's "A Rose for Emily" was not a weird tale because it could actually happen — whereas the crux of the weird tale is that it cannot possibly happen. The boundaries have blurred between the genres a bit since then, since such novels as Robert Bloch's Psycho and Thomas Harris' The Silence of the Lambs are now regarded as iconic works. In Sleeping Policemen, International Horror Guild nominees Dale Bailey and Jack Slay Jr. present a story that is genuinely horrific without ever even bending a natural law.

Three college students returning from a road trip kill a stranger in a hit-and-run accident. The rich boys want to keep going, but their friend Nick, who comes from a much humbler background, insists on going back and seeing if they can help. From this good intention several miles of Hell are paved as Nick, his friends, and his girl friend Susan are drawn into a nightmarish world of snuff films and runaways overseen by a grotesquely Mabuse-like figure known as the Pachyderm. The authors contrast Nick's own moral strength with the lack of strength shown by his friends, yet it is apparent that the compro­mise of that strength is what worsens their situation. There are many self-conscious references to works by Conrad and Fitzgerald that drive this home, but what Sleeping Policemen boils down to is how Nick and his friends act when confronted with moral evil.

— Scott Connors, "The Den," Weird Tales, October 2006


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