Book review: Kaspoit! by Dennis E. Bolen
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.
Jan 21, 2010 at 2:31pm
The reality of the Pig Farm is too grotesque to contemplate, as is the ongoing plight of Low Track sex workers. Most of us don't want those images anywhere near our minds. It's far easier to question the motives of anyone who tackles the subject, or accuse them of opportunism and exploitation. Then we don't have to think about the actual issue, or, worse, do something about it.
Jan 24, 2010 at 10:58am
Alexander Varty asks "Is he performing a macabre public service by putting common speculation into print, or simply pandering to ghoulish curiosity? "
The public have almost zero access to the mindset behind the badge that our police wear. This book is a must read for those who think our boys in blue shit roses and chocolate covered strawberries. For everyone else it's an eye opener and a confirmation that your tax dollars would be better used being burnt in a big pile to keep the damp chill air at bay.
Jan 24, 2010 at 9:55pm
A sleazy simpleton masterminds and conceals more than sixty murders over ten to fifteen years? No,it doesn't wash with me and I don't believe it washes even with your average mainstream media information consumers. But who's going to investigate the investigators? Truthfully,the whole scenario makes me sick to my stomach.
Jan 27, 2010 at 9:21am
If anyone had ever lived in the Downtown Eastside as I did would know what it what like dealing with the officers. I worked at the Downtown Eastside Women's Centre and the W.I,S.H. Drop In (before it was moved to its present location). When the women were assualted or worse, the attitude was oh well look at what you do for a living. I went in to talk with the officer and was informed that the woman was a NH (non human). I could go on. The reason why Pickton was able to continue for as long as he did was because the police refused to do their job. There was in fighting among the 5 suburbs and no sharing. Pickton was very conniving and scary. He had been list on the "Bad Date Sheet". I could go on....but I won't. I often have nightmares over my own encounter with this creep. He is not a sleazy simpleton as the defence made him out to be he is cold and calculating, there was definitely an intelligence behind those cold, cold eyes.
Jan 27, 2010 at 9:39pm
My sister Janet Henry is one of the missing women. If the cops done something about it as soon as they heard about that farm and Pickton, many live's would have been saved, mabe even my sister.
I hope one day we will find my sis!" She's been missing since 1997....
It has effected many of my family member's. It's been so horrific.
But life goes on and I'm movin on but I still think about what my sister might have went through, I try not to but I do. At least I know she's no longer suffering, and through my faith I know I'll see her again.