RogerBW's Blog

Sleep of the Innocent, Medora Sale 04 December 2019

1991 mystery/police procedural, fourth in the John Sanders/Harriet Jeffries series. A corporate chairman is found shot in a hotel room, and it looks as if the people who did it are going after the witness too, even though she doesn't know much.

This isn't really a Sanders/Jeffries book; they show up from time to time, returning from vacation after the main plot has got started, but the story is mostly about Sergeant Rob Lucas (introduced in a minor part in the previous book), who gets the initial call because he was covering for a colleague's long lunch, puts the pieces together, and ends up realising that the only person in the police whom he can trust to keep the witness safe is… himself.

All right, there are definite shades of the 1977 Eastwood/Locke film Gauntlet, as the policeman starts off hating the prostitute he's protecting but both of them manage to get beyond those stereotypes of themselves as well as of each other, while the rest of the police regard them as fugitives and someone on the force is definitely bent. But there's rather less gunplay, and rather more injury, hiding and recovery, not to mention actual police work when we cut back to the rest of the force in Toronto trying to work out what's going on and why a respected cop would suddenly go rogue.

There's some doubt about the potential culpability of the witness, and indeed of the victim's widow, but there aren't many surprises here; where there's virtue beyond the usual it's in the character study of the leads. I suspect Sale may be one of those writers who thinks that stable couples are boring; Sanders and Jeffries are now firmly in a relationship, and their level of banter has dropped sharply, perhaps to provide a contrast with the new people.

Not a brilliant work by any means, but an interesting twist on a well-worn story.

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Previous in series: Murder in a Good Cause | Series: John Sanders-Harriet Jeffries | Next in series: Pursued by Shadows

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