Monday, May 08, 2006

Sleeping Policemen by Dale Bailey and Jack Slay Jr.

Sleeping Policemen by Dale Bailey & Jack Slay Jr. is a three-fold work of art. At first sight, you are treated to a wrap-around painting by the accomplished and masterful John Picacio, who, using his unique and award-winning method, vividly renders a painting that is both lovely and distressing. It becomes increasingly clear that Picacio actually reads the books that he produces cover art for, which is both rare in genre fiction, and quite refreshing.

This novel has been produced by one of the shining stars of small publishing, Golden Gryphon Press. I was first made aware of this publisher from buzz surrounding such titles as The Fantasy Writer's Assistant by Jeffrey Ford, Secret Life by Jeff VanderMeer, and The Atrocity Archives by Charles Stross, and in each subsequent reading, my esteem has grown for them, not only as publishers of cutting edge speculative fiction, but as the finest in book makers as well. Each volume is solidly crafted, the bindings are sturdily sewn, and the alkaline paper used ensures a long-lasting treasure. The proof is in the reading, and I submit that each title I own from Golden Gryphon retains the look of a new book, even after multiple readings.

Sleeping Policemen begins with three friends driving home through the Smoky Mountains from a night at a strip club, when they hit a man. Upon stopping and returning to the scene of the accident, they find that the man is dead, and full of secrets; a loaded gun, a roll of hundred dollar bills, and a key. Instead of calling the police, they decide to hide the body and hope for the best. What follows is a non-stop ride down hells chasm, a lightning paced plot that leads to revolting secrets and inconcievable violence.

I'm no scholar of crime fiction; I've read only a few books and seen all the commonplace movies. However, like Joseph Conrad's masterpiece, Heart of Darkness (which it cites), Sleeping Policemen conjures all the horror that exists in the heart of men, and works quite well as a horror novel. What makes it so very terrifying is the very possible and believable premise, and the hint of all the true-life horror that bubbles just beneath the surface of our unsuspecting daily lives.

I read Sleeping Policemen in a single sitting. It was so disturbing that I'm not all that certain that enjoyed it in any conventional manner, but I was engrossed, hooked, and I could not put it down until it was complete. This novel is not for the squeemish; yet if crime thrillers with a healthy sprinkling of horror seem inviting, you should not miss this limited-time-only journey into the nether.

8/10

Collector's Notes:

Each and every book from Golden Gryphon Press is a limited print run, and as such, every book is collectible. Just how collectible is deemed by a works popularity and the ensuing popularity of the author(s).

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