HORSEPLAY – True Crime Memoir – Heroin in the 80s in Vancouver written by the undercover operator who lived it every day. A Fantastic Read and a Must Read for True Crime fans

Title: HORSEPLAY
www.horseplaythebook.com

Subtitle: MY TIME UNDERCOVER ON THE GRANVILLE STRIP

Author: NORM BOUCHER

Genre: NON-FICTION, TRUE CRIME, MEMOIR, ADDICTION, HEROIN, UNDERCOVER POLICE WORK   

Length: 272 PAGES

Publisher: NEWEST PRESS

Received From: THE AUTHOR

Release Date: NOVEMBER 2020

ISBN: 978-1-988732-98-5

Price: $21.95 CDN / $17.95 USD

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

DESCRIPTION:

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.

MY REVIEW:

True Crime has become a topic of mainstream interest. What was once only followed by law enforcement and dedicated ‘web sleuths,’ has now become a topic discussed by “regular” people all over the world.

This newfound audience has led to the publishing of myriad numbers of books, and also to the creation of thousands of podcasts, ensuring that every subset crime is being covered. I readily admit that I am a ‘True Crime Junkie’ and have been since I was a young adult (which was a thousand years ago if you ask my kids.)

What is underrepresented in this genre is Canadian stories. Yes, there are some, but most seem to focus on serial killers and/or other sensational and well-known murder cases. That is one of the reasons why I was so interested in reading HORSEPLAY.

In HORSEPLAY we get a glimpse behind the curtain of undercover work in Canada. And, lucky for readers, we get the information straight from the undercover operator himself.

Now retired, Norm Boucher has written about one of the undercover operations he worked on in Vancouver in the early 1980s. He was tasked with befriending the heroin junkies and especially their dealers with the goal of making arrests and trying to determine where the bulk of the heroin was coming from.

In the pages of HORSEPLAY readers will be shown the truth of undercover work — that most of it is not the glamorous lifestyle shown in movies or fiction books.

Spending eight months — day after day and night after night on Vancouver’s Granville Strip with addicts whose entire lives centered around shooting heroin. As soon as they used up their supply, they spent their time hustling to find their next hit. All while trying to avoid being ripped-off, robbed or beaten.

What Author Norm Boucher witnessed during that time profoundly changed how he viewed those he interacted with.

Norm pulls no punches when he writes, but I don’t want to give away too many spoilers from the book. Because of that, I humbly suggest that if you have any interest in True Crime, in Addiction, or in the real operations of Canada’s undercover officers that you pick up a copy of this fascinating memoir. This should be required reading for all up and coming law enforcement personnel and for anyone working with people who have addictions.

I feel that this book is so important and so fascinating, I have no choice but to rate it as 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Thank you to the author for providing me with a free copy of this book.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Norm Boucher left Montreal at the age of nineteen to begin a long and rewarding career as an RCMP officer mostly dedicated to drugs and organized crime. An active member of the RCMP undercover program for over ten years, his assignments included drug trafficking, money laundering, and homicide. He eventually represented the RCMP as a member of the Canadian delegation to several Regular Sessions of the Inter-American Drug Abuse Commission of the Organization of American States, held in Washington D.C. and Mexico City, where he helped develop a community policing program aimed at drug harm reduction. His varied career included postings on the national anti-terrorist Special Emergency Response Team, as Marine drug enforcement coordinator on Canada’s West Coast, and as liaison officer in Madrid, Spain, and Santo-Domingo, Dominican Republic.

In 1983, Staff-Sergeant Boucher spent eight months infiltrating the heart of Vancouver’s heroin scene. This experience became the subject of his memoir Horseplay: My Time Undercover on the Granville Strip, which he wrote over a period of several years, while continuing to fulfill his RCMP responsibilities in Canada and abroad. In 2012, Norm Boucher retired from the RCMP as a Staff-Sergeant, dedicating his time to writing and his work as a consultant.

Norm Boucher studied literature at the University of Waterloo. He is the recipient of the Governor General’s Medal of Bravery, the Carnegie Medal, and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal.

He is the proud father of four children and now lives in Manotick, Ontario with his wife Sally and their dog Cooper.

To learn more about this author, visit the following links:

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www.horseplaythebook.com

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‘TIL NIAGARA FALLS is based on the true story of Annie Edson Taylor who planned to go over Niagara Falls in a barrel. Did she do it? And if so, did she survive?

Title: ‘TIL NIAGARA FALLS

BASED ON THE TRUE STORY OF:                            ANNIE EDSON TAYLOR 

Author: KATERIE MORIN

Genre: FICTION, HISTORICAL FICTION, BASED ON A TRUE STORY

Length: 287 PAGES

Publisher: Po84 PRODUCTIONS

Received From: NETGALLEY

Release Date: 2018

ISBN: 978-1-948133-00-5 (EBook)

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS  ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Photo from the Francis J. Petrie Collection – Located at the Niagara Falls Library

DESCRIPTION:

1901. When a train robbery destroy’s Annie’s plans for a quiet life, she reinvents herself as a redheaded daredevil and heads to Niagara Falls, determined to be the first person to survive going over it in a barrel – or to die trying.

But when Annie arrives in Niagara, she unwittingly walks into a turf war between two crime bosses vying to control the illegal gambling, extortion and prostitution that hum below Niagara’s honeymoon veneer.

As Annie comes to realize that water is not the only danger in Niagara, her relationship with a riverman threatens her plans to fall.

Based on the true story of Annie Edson Taylor

MY REVIEW:

Annie Edson Taylor. Does this name mean anything to you? Have you ever heard of her?

I hadn’t. But after reading ‘TIL NIAGARA FALLS, I can guarantee that I will never remember her from this day forward. 

I live in Ontario, Canada and have visited the city of Niagara Falls more than fifty times over the years. Yet, somehow the fascinating tale of retired schoolteacher Annie Edson Taylor had never reached my ears. It makes me wonder if Annie had been a man, would I have heard the story? Sadly, I believe the answer to that question is a yes.

Although this is a fictionalized version of her story, the key facts are historically accurate.

Annie was unique. She was not the “typical” woman of her era. Firstly, she was educated in many subjects including mathematics and the sciences which were often seen as the realm of men. She was a retired schoolteacher with a keen mind and she exceptionally good at physics and engineering.

Annie was as unlike the daredevils who preceded her in attempting to survive going over the Falls in a barrel, as night is to day. She applied everything she had learned into figuring out a way she could (hopefully) survive the “Fall.”

The author has included many wonderfully colorful characters into the story, many of whom were based on real people.

This story has everything readers could possibly hope for in a work of historical fiction right down to historically accurate descriptions of outfits of the era and the attitudes as to what was “proper” at the time.

If you have ever been to Niagara Falls, or have even just seen the Falls in photographs, I highly doubt any one of us would ever consider going over that massive waterfall, even with the best safety gear available. To think of the complete lack of availability of safety equipment in 1901, it is little wonder that many people perished in that swirling maelstrom of water. Annie was one very brave and very determined woman and I salute her.

Cave of the Winds
To get super close to the Falls—and to feel their power—a must-do attraction is Cave of the Winds. You walk down wooden stairs to stand directly in front of Bridal Veil Falls. Then you walk up to the Hurricane Deck, where you are literally standing underneath the thundering waterfall. It’s a great way to get a sense of the power and amount of water that drops every second. It’s interesting to note that the decks are removed and rebuilt every year to prevent ice damage in the winter. When rebuilding the decks, the workers can work only 20 minutes at a time because the water is so frigid.

You should pick up a copy of this book at your first opportunity. It is a heart-pumping, thrill ride of a read and you will find yourself sitting on the edge of your seat thanks to the non-stop action. 

I have no choice but to rate ‘TIL NIAGARA FALLS as 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ It deserves nothing less.

*** Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with a free copy of this book ***

*** DOWNLOAD A FREE PDF PREVIEW OF THIS BOOK ***

Annie Edson Taylor, who was about 62 when she became the first, and oldest, person to survive going over Niagara Falls in a barrel.
Credit: Pictorial Press Ltd/Alamy

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Katerie Morin is an award-winning playwright whose work has been produced in the U.S., broadcast in New Zealand, and published in China. With musician Pan Morrigan, she created the radio play Castles of Gold, which was later released as a spoken word album on Green Linnet Records, featuring performances by Frank McCourt and Roma Downey. 

Katerie received her M.F.A in Playwriting from the University of Washington and her B.A. from Smith College. She lives outside of Boston with her family.

To learn more about this author, visit the following links:

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Rare portrait of Annie Taylor
Description from a cracked stereocopticon slide

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Test barrel

Title Annie Taylor’s barrel being taken out for an experimental trip over the falls
Creator Zahner, M. H.
http://www.nflibrary.ca/nfplindex/show.asp?id=93169&b=1

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Photo showing anvil

Annie Taylor’s barrel with an anvil attached to the bottom so she would float through the Rapids
Medium Photograph
Extent 5″ x 5.75″ black & white photograph
Description photograph has diagonal lines running through it
Notes The intention of the anvil was to ensure that Annie would go over the Falls head up
Date October 4, 1901.
Collection General Photograph Collection
http://www.nflibrary.ca/nfplindex/show.asp?id=90555&b=1

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The barrel and its living freight being towed to the starting-point / Annie Taylor
Creator Zahner, M. H.
Medium Scan from book
Description Scan from book
Notes Scanned from Over Niagara in a Barrel by Orrin E. Dunlap. Published by World Wide Magazine, 1902
Provenance Local History Collection
Date 1901.

http://www.nflibrary.ca/nfplindex/show.asp?id=93172&b=1

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Mrs. Annie Edson Taylor ready to start above the Falls
Medium Photograph
Extent 3.75″ x 3″ black & white ‘ a copy from a stereo image by M. H. Zahner Publisher in the Library of Congress Washington D.C.
Description negative A41475 436
Provenance Library of Congress Washington D.C.
Collection Niagara Falls Heritage Foundation Collection
Old Call Number NFHAP v.6 p.53
Rights Library of Congress Washington D.C.
http://www.nflibrary.ca/nfplindex/show.asp?id=89292&b=1

RAYMOND THE BUFFALO – A Fabulous Children’s Book by Lou Beauchesne and Illustrated by Kate Chappell is as unexpected as it is wonderful. 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Title: RAYMOND THE BUFFALO

Author: LOU BEAUCHESNE 

Illustrator: KATE CHAPPELL

Genre: CHILDREN’S FICTION, CANADIAN AUTHOR

Themes: FRIENDSHIP, LOSS, COME TO LIFE, TRANSITIONAL PICTURE BOOK, EARLY CHAPTER BOOK

Length: 48 PAGES

Publisher: ORCA BOOK PUBLISHERS

Received From: NETGALLEY

Release Date: MAY 11, 2021

ISBN: 9781459826175

Price: $19.95 CDN / $19.95 USD

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

DESCRIPTION:

Raymond is a brave, strong and hairy buffalo. Gilbert is a quiet, growing and not-at-all hairy boy. Raymond is the hero of Gilbert’s favorite book, and Gilbert brings his favorite book everywhere. When an unfortunate incident separates the two, Raymond finds himself in a very unusual situation—outside of his book and loose in the local library! There’s nothing for Raymond to do but wait for Gilbert to come find him. But as the days turn into months and months into years, Raymond has to be brave and make a new home in the library shelves and a new friend in the librarian, Nicole.

This adorably illustrated picture book celebrates the love we have for books and the strength of friendship.

MY REVIEW:

RAYMOND THE BUFFALO is a terrific tale, written as an early chapter book.

The story is about a boy named Gilbert who, for years has taken his favorite book with him wherever he goes. That book is called RAYMOND THE BUFFALO and it is from Raymond’s point of view the story is told.

One day, Gilbert discovers (like every young boy I have ever known) the wonderful world of dinosaurs. Gilbert’s mother takes him to the library where he borrows several dinosaur books.

When Gilbert’s mother grabs all of the library books to return them, she inadvertently drops off Raymond’s book as well.

Raymond somehow finds himself outside his book and he meets the friendly librarian and discovers the wonders that exist in a library.

Author LOU BEAUCHESNE has crafted a wonderful story of love, friendship, and loyalty as well as pointing out the wonderous world of the local library.

Raymond may be a buffalo, but he is also a terrific help to the librarian, staying inside his book when the library is open and re-shelving books at night. 

The Publisher of RAYMOND THE BUFFALO is my favorite children’s book publishing company; ORCA BOOKS. Even their logo (a killer whale) is gorgeous and I love that they are based in Canada.

I rate RAYMOND THE BUFFALO as 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ and I recommend it to readers ages six to ten.

Although this book is not being released until May 11, 2021 it is available for pre-order now and would make a fabulous gift for teachers, librarians, and booklovers, in addition to every child aged six and up.

Thank you to #NetGalley for providing me with a free copy of this book.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Lou Beauchesne is an author and illustrator of over twenty books for young readers, including La princess cowboy and La guerre des suces.

She began writing and illustrating small books that she sold to her neighbors and has been doing this ever since.

Lou writes and draws from her home in Quebec.

To learn more about this author, visit the following links:

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ABOUT THE ILLUSTRATOR:

Kate Chappell is a freelance illustrator living and working from her home in Lincolnshire, UK.

She graduated from Falmouth University with a degree in illustration in 2013 and uses a mix of traditional textures and digital techniques to create fun, dynamic characters and illustrations.

Kate has created art for Google, Stella Artois, Nespresso, Dove and many others and tries to include elements of humor in her work whenever possible.

To learn more about this Illustrator visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

AMAZON

CHAPTERS

PUBLISHER’S WEBSITE

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