Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Review: Curbchek - Reload by Zach Fortier

Written by Zach Fortier

Published: 2012

Synopsis: Curbchek-Reload is a darker account of the streets as they were worked by Zach Fortier, a dangerously deranged cop. Welcome back to the inner city and the twisted mentality of Zach Fortier. Patrolling the streets, broken and mentally damaged from years of urban violence, Zach fights a loosing battle to maintain a hold on reality. Join him in the passenger seat of a police cruiser for more of the darker and meaner side of life: The inner city. In Curbchek-Reload you get a front row seat to an attempted murder of a cop, suicide attempts, rapes, and DARK cop humor. Curbchek-Reload - Fasten your bullet proof vest and buckle your seatbelt, it is gonna be a wild ride!

Curbchek Reload's tagline is "Curbchek's darker, meaner cousin" and hoo-boy is that on the money! Following the already dark and gritty 2011 release of Curbchek (my review here), Curbchek Reload ramps everything up a level, the cops, the criminals, the anger and frustration...everything that made the first book interesting, albeit disturbing and heartbreaking, is back but with a vengeance.

Once again Fortier embraces a loose chronological formation, with each chapter encompassing a self-contained story that illuminates the difficulties that come with maintaining law and order, Fortier's own fallibility, and some insight into the general ills of today's society. Curbchek was pretty bleak, but much of the book centred around Fortier and his own personal demons. Curbchek Reload, however, is much more about the bureaucracy and bullshit that stops police from being able to do their job, and how frustrating this is for the men and women on the front line. Like many of the books I've been reading lately this isn't a particularly happy book, but it provided a valuable insight into a world that, in all honesty, I'm unlikely to ever see first hand.

Because the two books have such similarities in terms of style I'm going to direct you to my earlier review (the link's above) for more on that, and focus specifically on several of the chapters that occur in Fortier's latest book. Each chapter, ranging in length from 2 pages to 12, examine the many elements of life as a cop. Some focus on the lighter side of things, such as pranks between cops or between Fortier and some employees at the hospital, some look at some of the menial and annoying aspects of being a cop, like the ride-a-long, and some are much darker examinations of the criminal underbelly of the city. Here are a few of the chapters that I found the most interesting, disturbing, funny or eye-opening. First though, a warning, a couple of these stories are not pleasant at all.

Chapter 8: Warned but Ignored
In this chapter Fortier was called to the house of a man who wanted to report himself as a threat. The man, though he looked innocent enough, admitted to wanting to hurt the children on his street. However, because he hadn't actually done anything the best Fortier could do was have him committed to a psych ward as "suicidal". Although Fortier explained the issue to the attendants at the psych ward, the man was released the next day when he was deemed to be an attention seeker and went on to abduct and viciously rape a girl that lived on his street. It's a heartbreaking story, and it made my blood boil to think about the poor girl who suffered such a horrendous attack from a man who knew he was going to do it. It's one of the clear issues with police (and areas of government also) where the focus is on fixing or solving, rather than preventing such atrocities. But what could they do? If someone hasn't done anything yet you clearly can't lock them away, so what's the solution?

Chapter 15: Dreaming About Lassie and the Land Shark
This was one of my favourites, the first in a string of stories about Fortier's adventure into the K9 unit. Other than knowing that training is hard work and that police dogs are awesome, I know very little about police dogs so this was informative and a nice reprieve from the devastation of much of the book! This chapter details Zach's long desire to be part of the K9 unit, as well as discussing the dog he was finally paired up with, Emo, and the difficulty Zach came across with Emo. It's a revealing look at Zach himself (the behaviour of the dogs often mirror their trainer) but it's light, funny and leads into a series of chapters that are absolutely fantastic.

Chapter 31: Sending Out Positive Energy Makes All the Difference
Two world collide in this chapter. Two well-meaning but naive young adults decide to live as their parents lived in the 1960s. Free love, no possessions, relying on the kindness of strangers and the empty railway cars for their new existence. Unfortunately times they are a-changing. and late one night the pair were attacked as they made their way back to their temporary railway car home. Choosing flight over fight, the boy ran off and left the girl to be raped, beaten and cut by a vagrant who took advantage of their idealistic and trusting personalities. The world-wearied cop knows that we're living in a different world to our parents, he's seen the anger and disgust and heartbreak that take over the streets after dark. The university-aged couple, however, were full of youthful exuberance and positivity and are full of the romantic notions of living like a Jack Kerouac character. It's sad to think that these two (amongst the 100s, 1000s, or 1000000s across the world) have had their dreams crash around them and will never trust as openly or as freely ever again.

Zach Fortier's books might be a touch dark, but I find them completely illuminating and intoxicating reads. Be mindful of the content and language, but be sure to search out a copy of this book for yourself.


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