BEFRIEND AND BETRAY
Alex Caine

 


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Pan Macmillan. This edition published Oct 2008
Reviewed by Sunnie Gill

Non-fiction

Aaah, America. Land of the free, home of the ... free-market economy? Who knew that there are people out there who earn their livings by hiring themselves out to law enforcement agencies, to gather intelligence by infiltrating gangs and organisations? Weíre not talking about undercover cops here. These are civilians.

One such civilian is Alex Caine. Caine grew up in Canada and had a tumultuous childhood, frequently skating around the fringes of the law. In the late 1960s, looking for something more adventurous, he travelled to the USA, enlisted in the army and spent time fighting in Vietnam. On his return he found it difficult to settle down.

Caine was and is a martial arts aficionado. One day while attending a competition he was befriended by a fellow practitioner who was a member of the Bandidos motorcycle gang. In the course of conversation, Caine was asked if he was interested in helping to make a large drug buy. Disconcerted, Caine gave a non-committal answer. He later told his wife who encouraged him to report this offer to the authorities, which he duly did. Not long after, he was approached by the Mounties and asked if he was interested in accepting the offer and infiltrating the gang. So began Caineís new career.

Over a period of twenty or so years Caine infiltrated gangs such as the Bandidos, the Hells Angels, and even the KKK. He also made contacts with and supplied information on Asian Triads, Russian mobsters and corrupt cops.

BEFRIEND AND BETRAY is an insiderís story of this complex and murky world where you can trust no one. Not only did Caine have to be wary of the gang he was infiltrating, but he also had to be circumspect about who he trusted in law enforcement. His is a story of creating alternative identities and living on his wits, often for months at a time. It makes compelling reading.

Just how such people live, how they maintain their own identity and the effects on their relationships outside their work is as fascinating as the details of the work itself. In some instances Caineís story raises as many questions as it answers. Just how effective are these types of operations? The biggest success of his career, Caine feels is his first, the infiltration of the Bandidos. It resulted in dozens of arrests across the USA, Canada and internationally, but ultimately it didnít put a stop to the gangís drug-dealing activities. It just slowed it down for a while.

I thought BEFRIEND AND BETRAY said as much about the character of Alex Caine as it did about the gangs he was infiltrating. Caineís seemingly burning need for danger and excitement appeared to come before anything else. With a trail of failed marriages and estranged children behind him, Caine has finally given up this work. At least thatís what he claims in his book. The author blurb tells us that Alex Caine now works as an advisor on motorcycle gang investigations and is a frequent guest speaker at police conferences. He is a certified fifth-degree black belt martial artist. One does wonder about the ultimate cost of his unconventional life. Will he be alone in his old age or will his desire for living on the edge once more take control and lead him back to the old life and ultimately cost him his?

Dec 2008 review originally posted on Murder and Mayhem

 

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