The Les Brown Story

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Glasgow Crimefighter: The Les Brown Story

by Les Brown and Robert Jeffrey
Edinburgh, UK: Black & White Publishing, 2005.

In the study and teaching of criminal justice, it can often be helpful to look at the real life experiences of men and women who make up the criminal justice system. These accounts can put a human face on the successes and failures of the system, and move our understanding from how things are 'supposed' to be done to a more pragmatic understanding of how things 'are' done. Glasgow Crimefighter: The Les Brown Story attempts to summarize the highlights of Les Brown's career moving through the ranks of the Glasgow Police Department.

Former Detective Brown is cavalier in his description of both his adventures and misadventures during his time on the force. With a remarkable evenhandedness, he relates both his personal successes as well as his public fiascos. Brown provides some insight into the decisions made during his career as well as an explanation for his own failure surrounding the Tracy Main case in 1980.

Unfortunately, this inclusion of his failures as well as successes is insufficient to make this a truly interesting book. The book seems disjointed with characters and tidbits of stories that are never fully developed. It feels as if this work was simply edited from a much larger body of text. Characters described in detail are never heard from again and new personalities are introduced as if we should already have an adequate knowledge of their relationship with the author.

The most interesting portion of the book, the aforementioned Tracy Main case, concerns Brown's failure to properly follow police procedure. In this incident, a key suspect in the murder of a 13-year-old girl had all charges dropped against him because Detective Brown failed to document that he had fully cautioned the suspect prior to the questioning. While this is an unpleasant tale to recount, it does provide a very real example of difficulties...
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