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Sleeping Dogs    by Ed Gorman order for
Sleeping Dogs
by Ed Gorman
Order:  USA  Can
Minotaur, 2008 (2008)
* *   Reviewed by Tim Davis

If you like good old fashioned political novels (All the King's Men and Advise and Consent come to mind as a couple of golden oldies), and if like good old fashioned mysteries in which intriguing characters and clever plotting dominate the action, then here is an interesting hybrid for you: Sleeping Dogs, a hard-hitting, suspense-filled ride into the dog-eat-dog political world of Chicago.

As the action begins, Senator Warren Nichols is fully involved in a reelection campaign against upstart Jim Lake as his opponent. The opponent has been described by others as crooked and self-righteous (which seems to make him the perfect politician), and the wealthy incumbent (on the surface) seems to be charming and competent (though some of his critics would quickly point out the married senator's history of sexual exploits with a large variety of women).

Nichols, however, has a distinct advantage in his campaign because of his political consultant, Dev Conrad, a veteran of political campaigns and shenanigans who is well-known for being a cynical and 'sanctimonious bastard' who knows how to play hard-ball in politics. Conrad, though, is about to face more challenges and problems than should ever be allowed in any political campaign (even in Chicago): the senator's former political consultant has recently committed suicide (under mysterious circumstances), the senator has just collapsed during a high-visibility debate (and, as the apparent victim of foul-play, he has been rushed to the hospital), a blackmailer has just demanded $1 million in exchange for a salacious video (in which the senator is seen enjoying the sexual pleasures of a hotel maid); and someone threatening the senator's reputation appears to have been murdered. But it's all in a day’s work for Conrad who seems determined to get his man elected, regardless of the costs.

But then the costs (and dangers) explode, and - by confronting duplicity, betrayals, and murderous impulses from people both inside and outside of the campaign's inner-circle - Conrad will have to ultimately decide what kinds of expense (and death) are entirely too much to bear.

Drawing upon his own considerable experience in politics, award-winning author Ed Gorman pulls out all the stops in this derisive tale about American politics; Gorman has published 21 previous novels, he has published 11 short story collections, and with Sleeping Dogs - his 22nd novel - Gorman confirms his reputation for being a master of the 'competent, suspenseful mystery with more than few surprises.' Entertaining and eye-opening, Sleeping Dogs is an innovative, wry, and hard-edged novel that arrives just in time as a timely diversion (and a bit of comic relief) from the currently performing three-ring circus in American politics: the presidential primary season.

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