For Cameron Addicott, a regular work week involved spending days and days away from his spouse and children, following big-time drug dealers from the plane to the car rental kiosk, and finally to the desperate tailing of a speeding automobile to whatever home or hotel room they’ve rented for their brief stay in Britain. Somewhere along the way, hundreds of pounds of heroin and a few millions in cash will change hands.
Addicott’s The Interceptor (2010) is a real-life story of Addicott’s various efforts to find and stop a group of international jet-setters and the local lumps who make their living screwing over the Customs department (“long-term ops against serious villains,” he writes, “cannot be run by people who put their families first,” as he explains his disastrous private life).
He’s a secret agent, driving like a maniac through the streets to track the baddies. He then transfers to a new, more prestigious job where he would help monitor up to 500 phone lines at a time, with what sounds like the most minimal oversight (civil libertarians will be astonished).
Listening in on the conversations of these monsters involves hours and hours of grocery shopping lists, gross phone sex, “crappy lives and bad habits,” interspersed with sudden bits of gold. These are the brief and brutal orders to murder a former bud or the delivery of “stuff”, always a large suitcase of cash or drugs. Addicott makes it sound like the coolest desk job ever, spicing up his story with lots of adrenaline and adventure.
His office included a spot named Cocaine Corner and a section called Smack Central. The amounts of drugs and money involved are almost unimaginably large, and the workload rough: “[W]e don’t believe in coincidence. If it looks dirty, it is dirty.”
This is the inside story of a plainclothes Customs agent, later a member of the UK elite Alpha Project, which is eventually dismantled and subsumed by an agency Addicott soon despises for its easy racism, mismanagement and incompetence.
The Interceptor is a fast read for those interested in how government enforcement of anti-drug laws can work, both warts and successes (Canada makes a brief appearance!), and is filed under New Arrivals in non-fiction.
In a tale filled with elements that will recall some of Addicott’s real-life moments (though real life may be a stretch — most of the names and details have been changed in The Interceptor for security reasons, leaving a reader a bit lost about what’s accurate and what is simply made up), fiction writer Lee Child’s The Hard Way stars Jack Reacher, a freelance, ex military type hired by a shady security firm to help get the company president’s kidnapped family back safe and sound.
How did Jack find out about the kidnapping? By an odd coincidence, he was at the right place at the right time. Twice.
The Hard Way is available on a five-CD set (about six hours of listening time), and read by Dick Hill (2006). It’s in New Arrivals, eventually to be filed in the Audio section.
– Eleanor Brown, October 14, 2011