Bibliophile’s Corner. Curbcheck by Zach Fortier.

From the testimonials: “Curbcheck chronicles the experiences of a police officer as he transitions from a new boot with challenging life experiences to a salty veteran who has been baptized into the dark side of reality by countless hours on the street.”

This is a story of law and order uncensored. We watch crime shows on TV and treat it as just fiction. There’s often a clear divide between the bad guys and the good guys and although sometimes the writers of those TV shows show us that things aren’t so black and white it’s still TV, still fiction. This book isn’t fiction. It’s the real deal and it shows the ugliness on both sides of the law in no uncertain terms. We’re all human, regardless of what we do for a living. I liked Forthier’s no-nonsense style of writing devoid of embellishments or sugar-coating. Things are what they are and there’s that. It’s not all heavy though, there’s humour and a pretty funny story mixed in with the episodes that are anything but. I could tell that despite everything he’s been through the author hasn’t lost his ability to laugh, even if it’s the kind of laughter that’s tinged with bitterness.

The book is set up as a series of episodes talking about the cases Forthier worked as a police officer in his hometown after coming back from military duty. It’s clear that he came to the force with certain preconceived notions about the job and the people he’d be working with and when reality intervened I think the adjustment was a difficult process that took time and left its own scars. The stories within each chapter are grouped based on common themes which give each episode more impact. The author talks about his experiences and his reasons for doing things a certain way as well as the challenges of the job. It’s clear why he didn’t make many friends among other police officers and that the people he wasn’t friends with back then aren’t going to be won over by this book. The book is well-written with pacing, narrative, dialogue and voice working together and creating a satisfying reading experience.

The only thing I wasn’t particularly fond of was the formatting. As I’ve mentioned before the various episodes are grouped into chapters but there’s nothing that separates these episodes. I think it would’ve been easier to differentiate one story from the other while still preserving the effect by allowing for a divider symbol or extra space between the paragraphs. The 1.5 spacing wasn’t my favourite either because it made the book look like a manuscript, which, while easy to read, doesn’t make the book look and feel like a finished product. If you’re sensitive to graphic violence or rough language this book is not for you. Work life of a police officer is filled with crime, altercations and profanity, so that’s what you get in Curbcheck. However, if you want to see what a real cop has to say about his time on the job I believe that you’ll enjoy this book. And maybe next time you watch a cop show you’ll think about what you see a little differently.

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