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4.2 out of 5 stars
4.2 out of 5 stars
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I bought this after reading Killing Pablo (an awesome tale, and a superbly-written book). To say that this is about the British equivalent of Pablo Escobar would be quite an exaggeration.

It's clear that Curtis Warren was a nasty individual, and clearly someone I wouldn't wish to cross. It's equally clear, however, that the gentlemen who wrote this book did very little to research their subject fully. They mention at the beginning of the book that several of the key players in the story are still subject to legal proceedings, and cannot, therefore, be named in this book. I'd suggest that it might have been better to wait until a full account could have been made, because all I got out of this book was a collection of facts that I'd have got if I'd been reading the tabloids in 1995 and 1996.

Their writing style is firmly in the tabloid journalist mould, too. Consequently, the book is very easy to read, but I found myself wincing sometimes at the amateurish way that some situations were described in the book.

As a factual account of Warren's dealings, this is quite poorly written. As an explanation of how Toxteth came to be a breeding ground for all sorts of criminals, it's more interesting, but that's only about the first 40 pages of the book.

If you have an interest in Warren, or drug barons in general, this book is a relatively interesting read. But if you've read any other books on the subject, you probably won't get anything new out of this one.
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on 19 December 2003
Being from Merseyside I was particularly keen to digest this book as I remember being scared to leave the house back in the dark days of 1996 when gangland tit-for-tat shootings brought the city to its knees! However, to say I was a little disappointed is somewhat of an understatement. Much of the material was of an official nature and other tit-bits were merely common knowledge on the streets so groundbreaking information was severely limited. Also, it failed to directly engage a number of the main characters discussed in the body, such as Tony Bray, Curtis himself or any of the Ungi family. Overall, I found to be almost like a police report rather than an investigative piece of accomplished journalist which is unfortunately why I have rated it at only 2 stars.
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I would not have bought this but I was given it as a present by someone seeing 'Beyond Belief' and '40 Years of Murder' on my shelves and thought I liked 'that sort of thing' i.e. reading about Crime. Well up to a point Lord Copper. But this book is badly written and didn't tell me anything I'd not already a superficial acquaintance with it in, I think, the Observer or perhaps what I call 'the funny papers'. My experience was not helped by finding quickly that Warren is an unlikeable and uninteresting character; a thug. A book about his like needs to have some redeeming value as criminological, sociological or psychological document to be other than exploitation. A worthless account of an unpleasant man with neither analysis - none worth the name - nor exploration of his milieu leaving anything to recommend it. Barnes couldn't be rated one of our finer scribes, that's for sure. Horrible, lazy, exploitative. I hated it; ironically, it is worthy of its odious subject, he deserves poor treatment in and out of the slammer. He has it outside, let's hope he enjoys equally dismal fortune at Her Majesty's Pleasure .
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on 26 February 2014
Being from Liverpool I was particularly interested to read this book. As far as the reliability of the information contained in the book is concerned, it cannot be faulted. In fact, it sort of read like an official report in places and lacked the writing skills to make it ‘gripping’. I must admit that I struggled to finish it. As an historical background to the issues and reasons behind the troubles in Toxteth it is much more interesting, but that is just a small part of the book.

As far as the Cocky Watchman himself goes, I found him to be an interesting figure who is clearly very clever and charismatic. It is clear that as a youth he had a strong desire to become successful and rise above the poverty and desperation that surrounded him in Toxteth, it just a shame that he did not use his ability and brains for something more productive. Towards the end of the book we start to see how the pressure of being one of the world’s biggest drug dealers makes him paranoid resulting in him living in a safety ‘bubble’ that eventually leads to his downfall. It is such as shame that he refuses to write his own story, hearing it from his own mouth would be interesting.

I must admit, even though I do not want to, that I did feel sorry for Curtis towards the end of the book. His treatment at the hands of the Dutch judicial system has been disgusting. There seems to have been underhanded dealings between the international police squads that resulted from the desperate need to capture him that has cast a shadow over the whole case.

At the end of the day, the book is written in a journalistic style that can be boring at times and does not really provide anything more then what could be found in reading 90’s newspapers and Wikipedia.

I give it 3 stars out of 5.
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on 7 September 2006
Like I've said, a comeplling read about a fascinating character. I'd never even heard of the man before I read some excerpts form this book and I rushed out to find it right away. If you're into this type of book you'll love it, but I'd advise anyone to read it. Whether you agree with his chosen profession or not, you have to bow to the criminal genius that is/was Curtis Warren and this well written tale illustrates just how good at his 'job' Warren was, until he slipped up, that is! But I won't ruin it for you. Just buy this book, simple as. It's a must have, I can't recommend it highly enough. Hopefully, when Mr.Warren gets out of prison in a few years he might bless us with his own version of his astonishing life-story, but until then this will set the scene for you, about the man known as the 'Cocky Watchman', possibly the biggest drug dealer Europe has ever seen. Buy it. Now.
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on 17 April 2014
This book consists of Newspaper Articles and very vague Legal Case Studies that can be found anywhere on the Internet, I returned my copy, it's a shame, I really wanted to learn more about this guy...
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on 28 April 2000
If you like a good hearty account of international drug trafficing, this is for you. If you want to get inside the head of Curtis Warren, clearly it is not. Whilst the authors appeared to have lots of access to court reports, newspaper clippings and those 'in the know' in police and customs, they cannot disguise that they knew very little about Warren himself and of course this is part of Warren's mystique and intention. Early teenhood is sketchy. He was up in court. He was convicted. Details have become lost in the mists of time. In later years, the transformation from alleged 'street-scally' to alleged local and later international drugs baron is not described in any detail to enable the reader to trace this metioric rise. It was only when detailing transcrips of telephone bugs by Dutch Police, do we get any idea into Warren's character and even then there is a sense of overkill born of 'making up for lost time' as the text stoops to voyerism in describing that Mr Warren, amazingly, likes women in white skimpy tops. The book tries hard to tell what might turn out to be a remarkable story. Curtis Warren is imprisoned in Holland and is lodging appeal after appeal. In seeking to be first off the starting blocks in relating this tale, the authors have to paper over the gaps of missing information and inconclusive evidence and outcomes. There does remain, on the authors' part, a reluctant admiration for Warren whose personal qualities, in their view are misdirected. The same might be said of the motivations of the authors. Expect an updated version within 18 months. They might then be able to be in a position to fill in some of the missing pieces and draw some new conclusions.
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on 20 July 2001
A very interesting look into the life of Curtis Warren, who started from street criminal and ended up becoming the biggest importer of heroin into this country. Having read about all the publicity hungry London gangsters it is good to read about the very low-key Warren who was reputedly worth £300m. Warren's golden rule to his associates was never to speak about "business" on the phone. In the end he himself broke this rule and ended up with an 11 year sentance in a Dutch prison. Good read, buy it.
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on 27 June 2001
"Cocky" is the story about the rise and fall of Britain's biggest drugs baron, Curtis Warren. Chief perpetrator of multi-million pound deals, Warren would be ordering drugs on his mobile phone while the police were nowhere near catching him. The circumstances surrounding his downfall offer a unique insight into the demise of a man who thought he was too good to be touched. A must for all crime based enthusiasts, and for those who enjoyed Howard Marks' "Mr. Nice" or John Follains' "Jackal: The Secret Wars of Carlos the Jackal."
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on 29 April 2013
A brilliant book really enjoyed it I love all the seedy on goings of these people can't fault them for trying to make a living although a more normal job would have been better but hey ho that's life it's the kind of book that you just have to read again.
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