The Sleeping Policeman by Andrew Taylor

Tragedy is a word that has come to have several meanings. By most definitions, the Hanslope case had elements of tragedy. Afterwards, Dougal remembered that tragedy derives from two Greek words which can be translated as goat song.

And that was appropriate too, because in one sense of the word Graham Hanslope was undoubtedly a goat. Hanslope’s goat song ended in discord on the southbound platform of the Bakerloo Line at Paddington Station. It ended with the arrival of a tube train at a few minutes after ten o’clock on the morning of Saturday 16 February. It ended, as tragedies so often end, with death and the destruction of hope. (page 1)

I borrowed The Sleeping Policeman from my local library because I’ve read and liked some of Andrew Taylor’s other books. This book is the seventh novel in the William Dougal series. I haven’t read any of the earlier books, but I don’t think it made any difference; William Dougal, himself, has just a small, but important part in the book. (The sleeping policeman in question is not a police officer – it’s a speed bump!)

Dougal, a private investigator, is hired by Hanslope, a GP, to discover who is blackmailing him after had started an affair with one of his patients. But that isn’t the whole story because Hanslope has omitted to tell Dougal all the facts and has lied to him. What follows is a tense, taut mystery, resulting in a murder, which Dougal eventually solves.

None of the characters are very likeable, in fact some of them are downright nasty, but each one of them is a well-drawn cameo. There’s a reckless hit and run, corruption in the police ranks, a series of petty thefts, hostility between two families whose teenage daughters are too friendly for their parents’ liking and a journalist whose garden is filled with gnomes. I liked it immensely and am looking out for the other William Dougal books:

(Details copied from Fantastic Fiction)
Caroline MinusculeWaiting for the End of the WorldOur Fathers' LiesAn Old School Tie
Freelance DeathBlood RelationThe Sleeping PolicemanOdd Man Out

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