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A chilling first-person account (currently a runaway bestseller in England) of a top British cop's Kafkaesque experiences as head of an abortive inquiry in Northern Ireland. During a seven-week span toward year-end 1982, six unarmed Catholic men were shot to death by officers of the Royal Ulster Constabulary. The homicides provoked an outcry and demands for an independent investigation. Stalker, then Deputy Chief of the Greater Manchester Police, was assigned to the no-win case in 1984. After two years of digging, he and his team of detectives concluded that the RUC's anti-terrorist squads indeed had a shoot-to-kill policy for suspected members of the IRA. Despite lack of cooperation from local authorities, the author assembled enough evidence to convince him there had been a systematic cover-up of crimes ranging from perjury through murder. Before Stalker could submit his findings to the public prosecutor, however, he was summarily dismissed from the probe. Once back in Manchester, the author was soon suspended from duty on trumped-up charges alleging he had consorted with a suspected criminal and violated administrative rules governing the use of official vehicles. In the course of clearing his name, the beleaguered Stalker and his loyal family became full-fledged, albeit reluctant, media celebrities in the UK. In the meantime, of course, his Northern inquiry was in limbo, and, upon earning reinstatement, he quickly realized his law-enforcement career had ended. In recounting his own story, Stalker (now retired from the force at 48) never asserts more than he knows for a fact. He deems it likely, though, that his own troubles stemmed largely from the late 1985 signing of the Anglo-Irish Agreement, which the Thatcher Government vainly hoped would stabilize a violence-prone region. In like vein, Stalker hold no brief for expedient Home Office policies that grant the RUC de facto if not de jure license to commit crimes without punishment in the name of national security. Nor, in his measured way, does he hold out much hope for either an early or an easy end to the sectarian savagery wracking Northern Ireland. Powerful personal testament from a good man who was caught in the toils of sociopolitical forces beyond his effective control.

Pub Date: May 20th, 1988
Publisher: Viking