Bryan McLaughlin spent over 30 years fighting crime on the streets of Glasgow and beyond. During that time he was involved in investigations into over 200 killings, and rose from being a uniformed constable on the beat with the City of Glasgow Police to a detective inspector with Strathclyde Police. He served with the elite Serious Crime Squad and was head of Strathclyde's Criminal Intelligence Branch. After retirement he worked as a private investigator and a crime consultant to the Sunday Post newspaper.
Few people are as well qualified to tell the story of the way crime and policing changed in West Central Scotland between the mid 1960s and the late 1990s. That's not really what Bryan McLaughlin does, however, in this engaging book, written with Bob Smyth. What actually lies between the covers are a series of fascinating anecdotes. Most of the snippets are self contained, and they are corralled together in chapters that are generally chronologically ordered. The effect, which in other hands could have been chaotic, draws you in and keeps you turning the pages. It's almost as if you are listening to the recollections being told over a pint in a pub rather than reading them from the page. This is not really a retired policeman's biography, and neither is it a history of policing during the period covered. Rather it is simply the most memorable, most moving, most humorous or simply most significant cases the author had to deal with, presented with evident empathy for those he encountered while doing what could at times be a difficult, unpleasant, and dangerous job.
The anecdotes range from dealing with the prostitutes who once frequented Blythswood Square to a dead body in a tree, to terrorists, bombs, and to the serial killer Bible John, whose identity Bryan McLaughlin is sure he knows. En route we learn a little about some of the problems of being a policeman: such as having to go shopping with his family to a town off his patch, simply to avoid running into known shoplifters plying their trade. It is well worth reading this book for an insight into a world that many of us know very little about. It is particularly fascinating for anyone who enjoys crime fiction. Fictional counterparts of Bryan McLaughlin, of both genders and various ranks, have proliferated in recent years. This book is a great read for those wanting to get a feel for the way the real world compares, and one we highly recommend.