Andrew Nette reviews 'Before I Sleep' by Ray Whitrod

Andrew Nette reviews 'Before I Sleep' by Ray Whitrod

Before I Sleep: My Life flighting crime and corruption

by Ray Whitrod

University of Queensland Press, $32.94 pb, 227 pp, 9780702253409

The cover of Ray Whitrod’s re-released autobiography, Before I Sleep: My Life Fighting Crime and Corruption, strongly hints at a hard-hitting true crime memoir, dominated by the author’s troubled period as Queensland police commissioner from 1970 to 1976, when, as the blurb suggests, the state was ‘a haven for crooks from both sides of the law’. This impression is reinforced by a foreword from author–journalist Matthew Condon, whose books Three Crooked Kings (2013) and Jacks and Jokers (2014) revived interest in the extent of corruption in pre-Fitzgerald Inquiry Queensland.

Before I Sleep is not quite what it appears. Whitrod’s Queensland years take up just fifty-three of its 227 pages, and his recollections, in keeping with the tone of the book generally, are sober and non-sensationalist. Whitrod was a moderately conservative, deeply religious man, motivated by public service. He consistently downplays the dramatic aspects of his story, avoids personal attacks, and, with a few exceptions, seems reluctant to engage in harsh criticism. This is not a problem, as such. It is Whitrod’s autobiography, and he has the right to define himself as he sees fit. But many readers of Before I Sleep might be expecting a rather different book. For this is a family history as much as it is about Whitrod’s law enforcement career. The prose is competent but not superlative. What elevates it is the author’s incredible recall of detail, which brings to life many scenes that would otherwise be prosaic.

Read the rest of this article by subscribing to ABR Online for as little as $10 a month.

We offer a range of subscription options, including print, which can be found by clicking here. If you are already a subscriber, enter your username and password in the ‘Log In’ section in the top right-hand corner of the screen.

If you require assistance, contact us or consult the Frequently Asked Questions page.

Published in May 2015, no. 371
Andrew Nette

Andrew Nette

Andrew Nette is a Melbourne crime writer and freelance journalist. His first novel, Ghost Money, was published in 2012. He is co-editor of Beat Girls, Love Tribes and Real Cool Cats: Pulp Fiction and Youth Culture, from the 1950s to 1980s, forthcoming from Verse Chorus Press in 2015. 

Leave a comment

Please note that all comments must be approved by ABR and comply with our Terms & Conditions.

NB: If you are an ABR Online subscriber or contributor, you will need to login to ABR Online in order to post a comment. If you have forgotten your login details, or if you receive an error message when trying to submit your comment, please email your comment (and the name of the article to which it relates) to We will review your comment and, subject to approval, we will post it under your name.