May 19, 2010 at 7:12 pm #231
The Wolf and The Sheepdog is a book written under “fiction” because the author is still a serving officer and it was the only way for him to show the raw, emotional side of policing. Through the collection of short stories the author takes you through a world that recruiting posters will never show you, far removed from the standard “badge, bottle, gun” stereotype.
Other police officers that have read the book have critiqued the author, telling him that the public does not need to know the dark and emotional side of policing.May 25, 2010 at 3:10 pm #320
I will review this book.July 9, 2010 at 1:20 am #321
Have you noticed that one interesting man at the Christmas party or social event, clean-cut, almost military, a body that suggests power and strength, a man who watches mostly and talks some. Quizzing a few colleagues, you discover he is a city cop. Intrigued, you venture over to him to ask him a few questions: what is our city like, what is the worst case he has seen, why does he do it, and why does sentencing seem so unequal between crimes? You have endless questions, not all which can be asked. So you ask that off-duty city cop a few. His responses are vague with perhaps a little tidbit for you to mull over. He clearly doesn't want to talk about his work, so feeling unsatisfied you move onto the next person.
That unsatisfied feeling can be satiated with The Wolf and the Sheepdog by John Smith, a pseudonym for a Canadian city cop. This brutally honest book thrusts you into the mindset of a Canadian city street cop, fighting the non-innocents in defence of the innocents while putting his life at risk. Paraphrasing Smith's words, it's time for the masses to open the door of hell and take a good long hard look at it.
Once you start reading The Wolf and the Sheepdog, you will understand why that off-duty city cop gives you such vague responses. In Christmas Party, the people at the party ask Smith questions. His answers are as you expect, but Smith tells you why. This book delivers a collection of true stories you always wanted to hear from a Canadian street cop. You will walk in his boots; your curiosity satisfied. More so, these stories will stay glued to you from the first time you ingest Smith's words.
There are weaknesses in the book, repetition with the wolf and the sheep dog theory, some spell check errors, and some weak transitions from the present into the past but some good transitions too. I can forgive these errors in exchange for these insightful stories into the streets' shadows.
In cities where health and social programs can no longer meet their needs, the mentally ill wander our streets. In The Insane, Smith stops a physical confrontation between a mentally ill person and bad guy at a transit platform. But when Smith assures the huge unkempt man that yes, he is the real police; Smith sees madness enter into the man's eyes who then attacks him. Smith is suddenly in a fight for his life.
Drug users move through our city streets. Some drugs give the users a high tolerance for pain. Street cops must manage the drug problem through band aid solutions in trouble spots. These Hands and Fighting Superman illustrate the difficulty of rationalizing with users. In Children of the Drugs, Smith meets a very young teenage girl who works the streets so her uncle and her can buy the drugs to supply their habits.
Smith's details of sight, sound, smell, feel, and taste will bring you close to the truth and the horrors. These details help us to see the people in the shadows. The fights Smith describe are not vague, there are very detailed, transporting you into the instant decision-making moments. But he also gives us the tools to avoid feeling our emotions through his own ability to avoid his emotions.
For most of the stories, I see a forceful cop, never seeming to be emotionally affected. But I also wanted to see the other side his humanness that he keeps locked away. Once Smith believes we understand what he has to deal with, he eventually relents in the last three stories. He told me things that made me cry and helped me understand why he keeps his emotions locked away. Jake, The Wolf Hunts the Lamb, and Paying for Your Sins are heartbreaking stories.
Our cities, drugs, crimes and technology dictate our need for forceful cops. As in any animal species, we need the top dogs. In our suburban houses, we may declare humans have evolved where fighting force with force is unnecessary. But then we are ignoring the shadows. There is no longer a social structure of rural communities for the masses of Canadian population. In the days of abundant small farms and vibrant small rural villages and towns, everyone got to know everyone else, and people fell into line, obeying the social rules. Cities are too big for the citizens to police each other. So the question occurs. Do we give top dog status to those who have time on their hands to develop into the top dog, like the drug and criminal elements? Or do we give support to our street cops to keep and maintain top dog status?
Police officers operate at the apex of a city's life cycle. Smith's short story collection covers a wide range of human problems. Through his stories, we learn that police see more of death and its associates than the wonders of birth and life. We can't ask them to change, to become less forceful. Smith and his fellow officers are the city's defenders. Not defending the city from the enemy outside the city's walls, but defending us from the enemies within, enemies hiding in Trojan Horses.
In The Wolf and the Sheepdog, John Smith will tell you the stories you always wanted to hear, stories that will haunt you. At the next social event, you may be the one sharing stories with the silent off-duty cop, commiserating with him, and giving him a thumbs-up for a difficult job done well.
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