3 out of 4 stars
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Hilarious in places, grave in others, Ruff Justice by Neville Higgison is a memoir of sorts. It is a curation of Neville's experiences of over thirty years as a police officer in New Zealand and his sojourn to the other side as a criminal attorney.
As someone that has experienced both sides of the criminal justice system, Neville is privy to the shortcomings of the law on both ends. This is clear in the well-thought-out proactive measures he proffers to curb crime and reduce recidivism amongst other things.
Neville writes as he talks, so his writing style is informal and stark. Narrated in the first person, he relays the story in brief bouts with headings reminiscent of short stories. The book is just eighty-eight pages long, but it mostly contains a medley of investigations the author did during his career.
Barely a year ago, there was a mass protest against police brutality and indiscriminate arrest in my country. Many people lost their lives; however, not much has changed. Recent events have shown that police brutality is more common in other countries than I thought; so I appreciate that the author talked about the police use of "ultimate force" when dealing with offenders.
I also got clarity on why the police are often evasive with the public about the details of investigations. I'm glad he provided a logical reason they shield some details from the public. Again, I have always believed that early childhood and environmental factors are major contributors to adult criminality. It feels good to know that a professional in the field shares my views. Alcohol and substance abuse were common elements of motivation in most of the crimes he investigated. I'm flabbergasted by the levels of heinous violence people are capable of under the influence.
Overall, I enjoyed the book; the author intersperses humour and grave concerns seamlessly. However, the editing and sentence structure could be better. The book contains lots of one-word sentences; they aren't errors per se, but I consider them distracting and unnecessary. Also, I spotted enough genuine errors to strike off a star, so I rate it 3 out of 4 stars. I would advise another round of editing to improve reading flow and sentence structure.
The book is a crime documentary lover's dream. Even though I would like to recommend it to everyone, it's not an easy read by any standard. It contains disturbing details of actual murder incidents and investigations. The title is a tribute to one such victim. So if you don't have an appetite for gore, sit this one out. In contrast, it contains minimal vulgarity.
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