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Carsten Stroud.

Toronto, McClelland and Stewart, c1983.
236pp, cloth, $19.95.
ISBN 0-7710-8313-0.

Grades 12 and up.
Reviewed by John Jepson.

Volume 12 Number 1
1984 January

Numerous policemen and policewomen in various forces across Canada are the heroes and heroines of this exciting book, which took the author a year to research. In its pages we are able to appreciate the work of selected departments and divisions within those forces, drug, vice, street crime, hold-up, etc., while becoming sufficiently acquainted with some of the officers Stroud accompanied in their duties to see their human as well as their professional faces.

We are thus led to understand the loyalty felt between partners on patrol as they get the job done "according to the Code." Such loyalty, the author says, is not felt to the society that employs them; a society that has oversized expectations of its policemen as it does of its teachers and social workers who also share the policeman's distrust of administrators that elevate themselves above the daily nitty-gritty. Institutionalization fails to solve problems dealt with in isolation causing society to take umbrage because value for taxes (inflated salaries) is not felt to have been delivered. Nonetheless, most people prefer to stand back and leave everything to the professionals. It is not surprising then, that policemen tend to socialize with their own kind as they feel the distrust of the citizenry. How much "the powder blues," (policewomen), feel this public distrust is not clear, but sexism in police work is briefly described. However, distrust between people and police is not always a problem as some incidents show, although the classes of people police are often involved with must encourage a feeling of self-preserving alienation since contact with "normal" folk may become rare. Certainly, there does seem to be some general dislike of teenagers and college-educated adults, for fairly obvious reasons. Nonetheless, the police often show considerable concern for and good humour with possible malefactors they have to keep an eye on, Vancouver prostitutes for example.

Several chapters in the book are thoroughly memorable, "Hookie Mal's Run" is one. "The Piece" examines the history of a pistol while telling the story of the murder of Constable Michael Sweet in a Toronto Night Club, an account full of the terror and dark confusion that can only make us admire the courage of the early morning our men in blue are expected to show.

One might carp at the overwritten introductions to each chapter and the relatively few mistakes that should have been edited out, 5000 miles instead of kilometres, "affected" for "effected," but this is mere reviewer's scrutinizing. The book is an enthralling read, a well-produced and hard-nosed look at real people in action.

The type of reader who picks this book up is unlikely to be upset by the ripe language of the police or their clientele as reported by Stroud (There is a glossary.), but school librarians should consider this as well as some explicit scenes the vice-squad uncover. Voyeuristic? Some readers might feel so, but one suspects they'll enjoy it! Strongly recommended for senior student and adult reading.

John Jepson, Highland J. H. S., North York, ON.
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