Published by Anvil Press, 258 pp, $20, softcover
“Kaspoit”, apparently, is the sound of a beer can being opened, but you’ll want a shot of something stronger once you’ve finished Vancouver author Dennis E. Bolen’s fifth novel.
Both a profoundly problematic undertaking and a tour de force of thug-life horror, the book is a fictionalized account of what might have gone on at a certain Port Coquitlam pig farm where the DNA of 32 women was found during a massive forensic investigation. If you’ve ever felt that the publication ban on Robert Pickton’s speedy trial and conviction smelled strongly of cover-up, this is for you. Bolen essentially accuses certain elements of the RCMP of colluding with organized crime—while perhaps not directly complicit in the killings, certainly willing to overlook a few dead hookers so long as the kickbacks continued.
Kaspoit!’s real villain, a nameless and shadowy RCMP inspector, puts it this way in one of the longer passages of a book that’s made up almost entirely of terse and testosterone-charged dialogue: “All anybody’s going to know is what they read in the papers. And after the info spigot gets turned off everything in the media will be mainly fiction if it isn’t already. Our cops’ll only develop evidence to convict the filthy slob. They’re stretched anyway. No overtime. And you and I know damn well the rank and file police crowd is generally as dumb as the general public anyway.”
Given recent incidents of police malfeasance, this doesn’t sound like groundless supposition—and Bolen’s 23-year career as a federal parole officer has undoubtedly given him access to the seamier side of the justice system. But it’s impossible to avoid another, almost equally unsettling, feeling, which is that the author himself is guilty of profiting from the murders. Is he performing a macabre public service by putting common speculation into print, or simply pandering to ghoulish curiosity?
Your guess is as good as mine, but I’ll grant Bolen this: Kaspoit!’s nightmares are plausible, and dawn alone won’t make them disperse.