This is the third book I’ve read by Zach Fortier, and I have to say it’s probably going to be the last. Fortier’s books are “fictionalized” incidents from his past life as a police officer. CurbChek Reload is described by the author as “CurbChek’s darker, meaner cousin” and he’s not wrong. This book was mean, in more ways than one.
CurbChek Reload has the same format as Fortier’s other books. The short chapters describe “calls” during his time on the streets or memorable interactions with co-workers on the force. For the most part, each vignette stands on its own as a separate occurrence and doesn’t tie into the book as a whole, other than to show how many horrific events the author has witnessed. And believe me, these stories are pretty horrific. Aside from being grossed out, I was shocked at the author’s ability to talk about them with little or no emotion. Perhaps being a cop for twenty-five years gives one the ability to put emotions on the back burner, but reading his matter-of-fact accounts simply made me feel sorry for him. Instead of displaying emotion, Fortier pats himself on the back for being the only cop in the department who knows what he’s doing. In his eyes, every other cop on the force is “lazy,” “fat” or “stupid.” He is routinely able to calm down “tweaking” drug addicts, contain mobs that are about to get out of control, and talk criminals into giving up information. He could be called the “drug addict whisperer” for his uncanny ability to sooth the savages on the streets.
It’s taken me three books to figure out what is missing here: I wanted more of an overall arc to the book, a sense that the author has a point to make at the end, a conclusion that perhaps his many years as a cop were worth the agony, sadness and tediousness of the job. But CurbChek Reload simply ends as abruptly as it begins. By the end of the book I didn’t feel any sense of the author having accomplished anything, except to sensationalize crime. Even a book like this, which is cloaked as “fiction” but isn’t, could benefit from a bit more depth. After reading so many gruesome accounts of murder, domestic abuse, drug deals gone bad, and even bestiality, I was hoping for an epiphany of sorts from Fortier. What has he learned from all this pain? What conclusions has he drawn about the human race? I can tell that he feels anger, toward both his fellow cops and society in general, but as a driving emotion, anger gets old fast. We get it! You’re angry! I wanted a spark of optimism at the end, something that left me feeling that life is worth living. Aside from one chapter where Fortier saves a woman from committing suicide, I felt very little hope.
On a happier note, Fortier’s writing has improved by leaps and bounds since his first book, CurbChek. Sentences flow smoothly, and much of the cop slang that bothered me in the first book is thankfully absent. But good writing aside, I can only recommend this book to people who love to be shocked and grossed out. I’m sure the author’s point of writing these books is to remind us that the world is not always a happy place. And for those of you who enjoy being reminded of this, I’m sure Fortier has many more stories to tell.
Many thanks to the author for supplying a review copy.
You can purchase CurbChek Reload here.