Shortlisted for the Brass Knuckles Award for Best Nonfiction Crime Book at the Crime Writers of Canada Awards of Excellence!
In his first true crime memoir, undercover operator Norm Boucher recounts eight months spent infiltrating Vancouver’s heroin scene, a world of paranoia, ripoffs, and violence. It is 1983 and the War on Drugs is intensifying. From his barroom observer's seat, Boucher candidly reveals the lives of heroin addicts who spend each day looking for their next hit. Their dangerous subculture, centred around three gritty hotels on the Granville Strip, becomes Boucher’s domain as he attempts both to gain acceptance in a world far removed from his own and to keep himself safe.
With Horseplay, decorated RCMP officer Norm Boucher takes readers back to the assignment that shaped his outlook on the role of criminal law enforcement and the human side of addiction as it collides with the ruthlessness of the drug business.
Retired RCMP officer Boucher debuts with an engrossing account of a sting operation targeting Vancouver's heroin trade in which he went undercover. For eight months in 1983, Boucher hung out at seedy hotels on the Canadian city's Granville Strip, where he befriended and won the confidence of numerous addicts. He eventually worked his way from small deals to the top of the chain in purchasing "bundles" (learning the lingo was part of the process) before the operation wound down. Boucher sympathetically sees the addicts as people, who must be "capable and resourceful individuals," because being a drug user is hard work. His colorful cast includes longtime user Captain Kangaroo, upbeat trans woman Deedee, pimp Jimmy and his hardworking sex worker girlfriend from Fiji, and 60-something Fred, who had spent 40 years in prison. As readers become immersed in the world of these users, they are bound to come to care about their fates. In passionate prose, Boucher argues that the authorities need to take a holistic approach, which focuses on mental health, education, harm reduction, and community engagement. True crime buffs will find much to admire in this eye-opening personal narrative.