An easy-to-read book from a former activist who wanted to do something for his country.
A lawyer by profession, Andrew Brown joined the police force in Cape Town as a reservist.
He had an idealised view of the police force and his first days on the street were a shocking eyeopener.
Brown writes movingly about the force's members, giving the reader an insider's perspective on the crime situation in the country and the men and women who have to keep the population safe.
He explores the policies that hamstring the force and its effectiveness. The police had to find ways to deal with petty crime when their political bosses imported the broken window policy from the US.
This at a time when crimes against the person and against property were at an all-time high. Brown details his reaction to certain crimes and how his strength and endurance became eroded.
He writes with affection about the Bergies he got to know on the job and the symbiotic relationship with them. The police let the Bergies sleep undisturbed on the basis that they must move on before dawn.
There are daily stabbings and assault cases owing to alcohol fuelled fights. These waste a lot of the officer's time since they also have to be investigated.
The other police customers are the prostitutes, who are known to the cops. The cops know where they solicit customers and what their specialities are.
The prostitutes ask the police for help with difficult johns.
There is plenty of gore and anguish in the book. But the stories are leavened with a humour that makes them a little more palatable.