Dale Bailey
& Jack Slay Jr.,
Sleeping Policemen
(Golden Gryphon, 2006)

After reading Sleeping Policemen, I considered asking another Rambles.NET staff member to take on the job of reviewing the book. But I didn't want to walk away from this simply because it's a difficult task.

Dale Bailey and Jack Slay Jr. have produced a book that starts out powerfully, with three college friends returning from a night in a strip joint. When Nick Laymon and his buddies accidentally run down a man on a nearly deserted stretch of mountain road, it sets in motion a series of horrific events that, according to the book's press release, "will bring Nick and his companions face to face with the limits of friendship. As his life unravels around him, Nick Laymon will be forced to reckon with his own dark potential."

The word "dark" is a significant understatement. This book is pornographic in its use of violence and sexual violence. It's one thing to use fiction to explore the darkest areas of the human psyche, it's another to revel in the details of a snuff video as this book does. When, right near the end of the novel, Nick is attempting to comfort his girlfriend Sue, who has been horribly abused, and the authors decide that the best way for Nick to calm her is for him to hit her, it told me everything I needed to know about this book.

I will concede that the writing in Sleeping Policemen is quite good, though the literary tic of Nick's thoughts being interrupted by darker, overlapping thoughts becomes more than a bit tedious. But there are plenty of well-written books available that don't depend on misogynistic, gratuitous violence to make their point. Many of them have been reviewed on this site. Read one of these other books and let Sleeping Policemen lie.

by Gregg Thurlbeck
16 September 2006

Buy it from Amazon.com.