Happy Friday! Welcome to my stop of the blog tour for Operation George by Mark Dickens with Stephen Bentley.
Big thanks to Zoë O’Farrell of Zooloo’s Books Tours for inviting me on the blog tour and to Hendry Publishing for my e-copy of Operation George which I received through Netgalley.
Meet the real Line of Duty™ undercover team in this previously untold and gripping story of how a Northern Irish terrorist and murderer and one of his followers were caught in an audacious and brilliantly executed undercover sting on the English mainland, codenamed Operation George.
In 2006 at Belfast Crown Court, William James Fulton, a principal in the outlawed Loyalist Volunteer Force, was jailed for life and sentenced to a minimum of 28 years after the longest trial in Northern Ireland’s legal history.
Fulton was an early suspect in the Rosemary Nelson killing. Following the murder of the prominent human rights lawyer, he fled to the United States and, with help from the FBI in collusion with the British police, he was deported. On his arrival at Heathrow, Fulton ‘walked through an open door’, a Lewis Carroll-like euphemism for an invitation created by the covert team, only to disappear ‘down the rabbit hole’ on accepting the invitation.
That ‘rabbit hole’ led to an alternative world: an environment created and controlled by the elite covert team and only inhabited by the undercover officers and their targets. The subterfuge encouraged the terrorist targets into believing Fulton was working for a Plymouth-based ‘criminal firm’ over a period spanning almost two years. In that time, over fifty thousand hours of conversations between the ‘firm’ members were secretly recorded and used to bring the killer to justice.
This unique story is told by former undercover officer Mark Dickens who was part of an elite team of undercover detectives who took part in ‘Operation George’, one of the most remarkable covert policing operations the world has ever known. You won’t know him under that name nor the many aliases he adopted as an undercover police officer infiltrating organised crime gangs.
Together in ‘Operation George’, with pioneering Operation Julie undercover officer and bestselling author, Stephen Bentley, they have written a gripping account of a unique story reminiscent of the premise of ‘The Sting’ film, and the ‘Bloodlands’ setting, combining a true-crime page-turner with a fascinating insight into early 21st-century covert policing.
The publisher wishes to make clear by using the Line of Duty™, there is no implied association with the Line of Duty series nor World Productions Ltd and the trademark is attributed to World Productions Ltd.
What Did I Think?
I don’t read much true crime, which is slightly surprising given I love crime fiction. But something about the blurb for Operation George spoke to me and said “read me”.
It’s a book of two halves; the first half is the all about the sting, whilst the second is the trial. The blurb already told me that Fulton, the target was going to be jailed so I was interested more in how they got there and what he was actually found guilty of especially, as he was a suspect in the murder of a prominent lawyer. Was that what he was found guilty of?
Mixed in with the details of the Operation George sting is anecdotes and facts about the changes to undercover work. I never realised that the officers who go undercover make a career out of this work but it does make perfect sense. The lengths the undercover officers had to go to was fascinating. I couldn’t get enough of the undercover work!!
As the second half went on, I felt like it was dragging a little at points. It wasn’t my preference of how a trial should pan out but it was a different style of trial. For me, it lacked the theatrics of a crown court proceedings with the questioning and cross examination of witnesses by barristers which I love. It was, however, interesting to read a trial by judge along with their thought process to deliberate whether there was duress or substance influences to the admissions.
Operation George was an interesting insight as to how a dangerous terrorist mixed up in the unrest in the Emerald Isle was brought to justice. I grew up with the threat of the IRA constantly in the news so seeing various parts of the British police and the RUC working together to bring down such a criminal have me some of the work behind the headlines.
Who Is Stephen Bentley?
Stephen Bentley is a former UK police Detective Sergeant, pioneering undercover cop, and barrister. He is now a freelance writer and an occasional contributor to Huffington Post UK on undercover policing and mental health issues.
Stephen also writes crime fiction in a fast-paced plot-driven style including the Steve Regan Undercover Cop Thriller and the Detective Matt Deal Thriller series.
Follow him at:
Who Is Mark Dickens?
Mark Dickens is a pseudonym. From humble, and sometimes, difficult beginnings in life, Mark served for many years in a British police force with distinction. He was commended on many occasions for his outstanding detective work including many undercover roles involving the infiltration of organised crime groups throughout the UK. Mark was registered on the national undercover officer index and also ran training courses for undercover officers. Following his retirement, he remains anonymous to protect the safety of himself and his family.