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But those are fictional retellings. From page one it's very clear that this is not fiction.
It is a rare person who can understand the unfolding of their own lives with clarity and objectivity, even in hindsight. Rarer still is someone who can relate the saga to others in a way that sweeps them up into the tale and makes them feel they've been part of it. Duncan MacLaughlin has both those gifts.
By devoting the first 50 pages of The Filth to his childhood, the author enables us to grow with him in conviction and understanding. That background, together with a style of storytelling that blends irrepressible wit, complete lack of self aggrandizement, step-by-step build up, and gritty detail, makes it seem perfectly natural to have progressed from childhood camping trips to camouflaged hide outs nearly under the feet of Sunday picnickers.
The second fifty pages take us through the rigorous training program that makes London's police force into a world renowned entity and the author's early days as a 'bobby on the beat.' In those pages we discover that everything we ever suspected about our local police force is probably true...And that truth can provide more humor than fiction. However we're also acquainted with the facts of police life and work that make us all grateful to have them right where they are: Standing between the criminal element and the rest of us; Handling the problems we'd rather not have to see; and -- eternally -- There when we need them most.
The final 3/5ths of the book is dedicated to MacLaughlin's work with Scotland Yard's Criminal Investigative Division - "The Filth" from which the book takes its title. From the numerous moments when his life was on the line, to details of training programs that even many of the 'best of the best' couldn't stay the course for, to the deep camaraderie that goes hand in glove with living in those situations, once again we are privileged with a true glimpse inside a world most of us have only guessed at.
Beyond the heart-stopping drama and unprecedented inside information, the thing that impressed me most about The Filth was Detective MacLaughlin's sense of the people involved in each facet of his work: The human tragedy of the victims and their families; The understanding for how the backgrounds of the people who became his sources led them to the positions in which he encountered them; The unfailing commitment to protecting those sources; and, overall, The dedication to keeping the world as safe as possible for the rest of us. He makes no bones about the fact that corners are cut and that neither he, nor the force, were squeaky clean. However The Filth also makes it clear that there are some corners that will never be cut.
The author's adherence to his own code of honor and priorities with regard to the people he values were dramatically underscored in an on-air publicity appearances for The Filth on the BBC last year. MacLaughlin's answer when asked what he liked best about having had a book published, reflects the inimitable style that grounds this saga. The author responded, "Quite honestly, it's allowed me to be in contact via a third party with the guy who was responsible for my father's death. I was able to put him on notice that his days are numbered; That I intended killing the person who shot my father and what's more, that I'm smart and would never be caught."
The elder MacLaughlin, a Royal Marine Commando and medical doctor, was shot in Northern Ireland during one of the first major skirmishes of that conflict. One of the most poignant passages in The Filth relates a conversation in which MacLaughlin and his father discuss what happened the day a sniper targeted the author's father over and over as he drove an ambulance through the embattled streets in an effort to save wounded civilians. He saw the gunman firing at him, but his inability to positively identify the weapon that had been used (and unwillingness to lie about the fact when asked) allowed the man charged with the sniper attack to walk free.
In the quoted exchange, MacLaughlin Sr asks his son what he would have done in similar circumstances. As true to his own code when being put on the spot by his lifelong hero as he was throughout his career -- and in this book, the author responded that he'd have said whatever was necessary to ensure that the guilty party went to prison. That answer led his father to question the state of his son's conscience...A question he might well reiterate if he'd been alive to hear the BBC interview. But after reading The Filth, one thing is abundantly clear: Duncan MacLaughlin will deal with life on his own terms, according to his own deeply held ethics.
As several other reviewers have noted, the ending makes it clear that another book will be forthcoming. The next one is sure to be an even more suspense-packed read as it's likely to focus wholly on his days with the elite squads, as well as the internal politics and grudges only briefly mentioned here, that led MacLaughlin to leave the force.
I wrote to the author personally before submitting this review and was delighted to find that we have a third book to look forward to as well. It seems that, true to the international sleuth image we've been introduced to here, the former detective has dedicated the past year to cracking one of the world's great unsolved mysteries. It will be no surprise to his readers that the case of the missing earl was no match for his skills. There's now at least one person in the world who knows exactly what happened to Lord Lucan after he disappeared the night his wife was attacked and his children's nanny murdered a quarter century ago.
The rest of us will have to wait for the book.
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on 7 February 2003
Attention intrigue lovers and crime readers! This is a book for you.
From beginning to end this very able author has us glued to each page as he guides us through his early upbringing in exotic locations to his investigations of serious crime in the Elite squads in which he worked.
When you have had to dodge bullets, or deal with the fact that a contract was made out on your life, you begin to understand why the author still nurtures a cool detachment; obviously a necessary component developed to deal with the soulless and dangerous deviants he swore to protect us, John Q. public from.
We have not heard the last of Duncan Maclaughlin. I suspect this first book primes us for what I believe will surely be an explosive expose of closely kept secrets.
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on 6 November 2015
Must read! Very humorous and entertaining. Couldn't put this book down
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on 24 August 2015
Not as described. Very slow start. Sounds a bit of a Walter Mitty
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on 8 November 2015
Delivered with a couple of days and a great read
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on 9 March 2015
Seems a good insight into life as a Policeman
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on 24 November 2014
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on 22 March 2015
great read highly recommended.
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on 24 June 2003
This book was a very interesting insight into the world of policing pre PACE. The author also highlights the black humour which is what holds mean of the teams together in suck a demanding environment. I would have liked to have learnt more about the situation that caused the author to leave but I would only presum that he either does not want to tell or can't.
It depicts perfectly the strain that is put on modern day crime fighters with the sophisication of modern criminals, the toll it has on their health and ultimatly their social life marriage etc
All in all a very good read and I hope that Mr Maclaughlin will finish the stories off......
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on 6 February 2015
First class read.
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