Reviewed by TBBManiac Robs
I am a huge fan of real life crime stories, it fascinates me hearing of the motive that people have in committing the crimes that they do, but what I enjoy even more is hearing about the build up to arrests and the impressions left on the law enforcers involved. I guess it’s that element of observation, of studying the suspects and drawing conclusions based on one’s own understanding of human nature that draws me the most. Naturally I was immediately drawn to Stephen Bentley’s story about Operation Julie.
Operation Julie resulted in the break-up of one of the world’s largest LSD manufacturing rings with only three undercover cops engaged in the operation; this makes Undercover all the more of a necessity to read in my opinion.
Life as a law enforcement officer is hardly easy I’ve learnt, particularly when trying to climb the ranks and gaining access to the real ‘dirty’ work while still keeping clean amoungst less-than-honest colleagues. Bentley was an ambitious and eager young officer when he and Eric were approached for Operation Julie and wasted no time in accepting the case.
Bentley is brutally honest in sharing the memories of life undercover; providing observations of the people he encounters in a candid and relatable manner, even admitting to feeling a growing enjoyment for one of the individuals later busted by their investigation. He’s not afraid of giving examples of corruption or sharing misgivings for police services he considered to be most prone to the act of freemasonry and gossip (Welsh). Even demonstrating how sometimes, an entire operation could run the risk of being bust by those higher up the chain with little notion of how easily one can be discovered as being a cop;
“The problem with police officers like Greenslade is a lack of brain capacity. They have a total lack of flexibility in attitudes and tactics. For every good leader I guess there have to be several idiots. We had an idiot as a nominal leader”
The most fascinating aspect of the entire book has to be the effects that going undercover had on Bentley. I imagine not many consider it to be a psychologically daunting, if not crippling experience and it’s absolutely fantastic that Bentley chose to dispel this opinion in Undercover. He shares the experience of not being provided the official recognition he felt he deserved, the depression he hid from his force-colleagues and the guilt which ate at him over betraying Smiles. And of course then takes us behind the curtain of depression/PTSD fueled alcoholism. It’s fecking brilliant if you ask me.
This is an exceptionally detailed account of life undercover, for those who have a particular interest in police force operations, or true drug-bust stories, who are looking for an informative read; it’s a must. As an entertainment read, I would not recommend it; despite there being a smattering of funny quips it is by and large an exceptionally serious tale which requires some form of passion for the subject matter to be fully appreciated. I feel if you’re looking for entertainment value, you’d be better of finding a fiction tale.
And you know what – all law enforcement agencies should read the Chapter “Lessons Learned”, I think they’d very quickly see just how little care is given about the wellbeing of their officers and staff.
I do hope Stephen looks into writing a fiction novel of this, I think it’d be a fantastic success, hopefully we’ll be given an inkling of what his alternative theory regarding Bill and Blue is.
Review Rating: 3/5
Published by: CreateSpace
Published Date: September 14, 2016
Genre: Biography / Professionals / Academics