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Mundane and Ego Driven
on 4 March 2010
I picked up this book in eager anticipation of a thrilling read and an insight to life on the Metropolitan Police's specialist firearms unit, instead it was just under 300 pages of self praising, ego driven, badly written prose.
Where to start? As has been commented in other reviews, one thing that shines out above all else is the ego of the author. It casts its shadow over the entire book like a monolith. No matter what the situation or anecdote the autothor is never slow to praise himself and the chosen members of his team. Starting from when he joins the team it progressivly deteriorates.
The book reads like a series of tales you would expect to here from a chap in a pub. It almost reads like a parady in places, always in the right place at the right time to save the day from ineptitude of his colleagues in other branches. He even throws in a few 'witty' one liners in places. Criminals are portrayed as almost subhuman and the members of the public like mindless sheep, he seems to have little compassion or consideration for those whose job it is to protect.
He frequently mentions that he has made enemies amongst other members of SO19 and the force, reading this book its not difficult to guess why. He seems to regard many of his colleagues who aren't in his immediate team with such contempt and disdain, often pointing out failings and flaws while negativly comparing them to himself and his team. If this attitude can be discerned through what he wrote in print, its a reasonable assumption to say he conducted his person in a similar manner.
I got the distinct impression that this book wasn't written by the author not to provide a gritty fly on the wall expose of life on the force, but because his ego simply wouldn't allow his version of the many incidents he attended and 'tales of derring do' to go unannounced to the world at large.
Which brings me to my next point, details about life on the force are pretty thin on the ground. Apart from a couple of chapters dealing with training and certain aspects of the job, the book lurches from one similar anecdote to the next with little in the way of background. As far as the author is concerned each incident started and ended with his arrival and departure. A few vague attempts at epilogue to certain situations are thrown in but almost as an afterthought. The narrative jerks in places, making the 'plot' difficult to follow. Sometimes its the author telling the story, sometimes its the author telling a story about someone else from their perspective, it lurchs back and forth with little direction.
There is little clue into the life on SO19, apart from briefings, a few ops and several 'knowing' references to SAS/SBS activities there is little insight at all. No one wants to hear about paperwork and the like, but more detail regarding the day to day life of the team. How they spend their time, what training the do with other Met Units, what vehicles they use. Instead we are treated to several pages of sitting in the back of cars and fart jokes.
The book starts pretty readable but as it progresses and the ego becomes more apparent and the operations/jobs become almost mundanely similar the book loses its appeal. I pretty much had to force myself to finish it. I dearly wanted to like this book, to be able to enjoy it and tell my friends about it. But the tone and style of writing make it impossible.
If you are looking for a good real life insight into SO19 i'm afraid this isn't it.