Book Review – Who the F*ck Am I?
by Stephen Bentley
Average rating (all reviews) :
1 Blogger Reviews
| Joni Dee
| Rodney Strong
A Good Novella Which Gives You a Taste for More
“Who the F*ck Am I?” is a novella by Stephen Bentley (more about him later), which can only be described as borderline non-fiction crime-thriller genre.
Steve Regan is an undercover cop, who is trying to infiltrate a US-driven drug ring in late 70s Britain. He comes across Bill Morris, a Canadian international who is trying to establish this drug ring, and they immediately set off on a collision course. While Regan is the ultimate conflicted good boy, Bill is the absolute devil: murder, rape, and outright violence is his bread and butter, while he is in bed with the dangerous Bolivian cartel. Will Steve stop him or will he succumb to the thrill and glamorous life of an international drug dealer and go rogue?
As a novella, which sets the scene to a trilogy, “Who the F*ck Am I?” is a very good read. Stephen Bentley’s writing is precise, well edited and weaved with high English as well as punchy Cockney slang. Stephen Bentley has been an undercover cop himself, active in “operation July” which is one of the biggest international drug busts in modern history. Bentley had managed a variety of jobs, including a barrister, and his intimate knowledge of the crime world oozes from the pages. There’s no doubt in my mind that this book is inspired by real events, even though the author is trying to undermine this in his foreword.
The critical aspect of this review has to do with the Characters – Regan was a bit underdeveloped for my taste, and I would have loved to understand what he was doing undercover for two years, He is too “perfect” and I didn’t buy for a second his “going rogue” thoughts. My second critical point has to do with the ending. Without giving out any details, I think the entire episodes after the climax of the Regan-Bill confrontation were unnecessary. instead I would have preferred a more elaborated account of Bill’s affairs in the US and Regan’s past. The book ends in a very American-movie manner and too many things fit into their right place…
“Who the F*ck Am I?”‘s plot is plausible and believable, however I would have loved to see it develop more: A bit more about the cartel, Bill and Regan’s life would have made me much more content. Compelled to write this, I must concede that this novel is well succinct and is a page turner on its own merit. The book will give you a glimpse of the undercover life and if you like crime thrillers you would love to enter this 70s world of no mobile phones, no advance tech and old school British-gangster-violence.
A Solid Start for Bentley
Who the F*ck am I? centers on British undercover cop Steve Regan as he navigates the murky world of drugs in the 1970s. He’s been under for so long he begins to question who he is and whether he should succumb to the temptations of easy money to help save his mother.
First off I need to say I love the title. Not only is it abrupt and in your face, it matches the speech and thought patterns of the main character Steve Regan. This promised to be a gritty, no holds barred, view of undercover work in the 70s. And for the most part it delivers. The language is believable, and although some of the characters are a little cliched, for the most part they are well drawn.
This is a novella, and the story is quite short, which means it is a little frustrating that the story bounces between characters. There are long periods where it’s told from Bill or Caroline, and Regan isn’t even in the picture. This means you never really get into his mind and follow the struggle he has about whether to turn rogue.
The author has a tendency to interrupt tense scenes with long expositions. At one point Regan is meeting the drug cartel for the first time, which should be fraught with danger, but instead we get two pages of back story on Regan and how he got there.
Even though it’s a novella and intended to be short, it actually could have been shorter. There was a natural conclusion point, but things dragged on a little while the author set up the next book. The last ten or so pages could easily have shown up as the beginning of the next book and not impacted on this book at all.
This was a solid start for Bentley, and I’ll be interested to see where he goes from here. 3/5 stars.
The Reviewer is the Author of Troy’s Possibilities
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