Mystery Thriller Week continues with an exciting interview with Stephen Bentley, author of Operation Julie – The Inside Story, a true crime memoir you not going to want to miss
Undercover: Operation Julie – The Inside Story is a memoir of your time as an undercover officer. What made you decide to write this memoir?
It is a book that has been in my head for so many years; the old adage about “everyone has a book within them” was certainly true in my case. The trouble was initially I didn’t know how to write it. I started and stopped so many times until I discovered how to write.
Operation Julie is still a “big deal” in the UK and still one of the largest drug busts in that country. News articles about it still crop up on a frequent basis and I became somewhat annoyed at some of the inaccurate reporting so that was a further reason for writing the book – to put the record straight.
I also needed to write the book because subconsciously I needed to exorcise some “ghosts” from the past. The writing of it became a therapeutic exercise and is even now helping me to come to terms with the psychological impact of working deep undercover – the living of a “lie” as two very different people but in the same skin.
You donate a portion of your book royalties to the James Bulger Memorial Trust. Tell us about that and your decision to make this donation.
James Bulger was a toddler murdered in the Merseyside area of the UK in 1993. It became a high-profile case and shocked the nation not just because he was a toddler but the fact his killers were aged about 10 or 11.
My early detective experiences were on Merseyside. About one year ago, Stuart Fergus contacted me through my personal blog Expat in Bacolod (a city in the Philippines). Stuart is married to Denise, the mother of James and Stuart also helps run the charity started in James’ name.
He contacted me because a man from Merseyside had told Denise and Stuart he had seen a vision of James in a cave in the Philippines but they had lost his contact details. They thought he may have been an expat living in the Philippines and I volunteered to write a blog post in an attempt to find this man. Sadly, the man was never traced but I struck up a firm “virtual” friendship with Stuart and decided to support the charity named after James Bulger.
You’ve been a police officer, an attorney, and now an expat writing from the Philippines. Can you tell us about your journey to become a writer?
Phew! That is a long story. I first wanted to write when I was still at school and thought about journalism as a career. It didn’t happen. I guess my writing skills were sharpened by my 14 years as an attorney and the professional training to become a trial lawyer. Oral argument and skills are but one factor as counsel in a trial. You also need to be at least proficient in preparing written arguments particularly on matters of law.
That kind of legal writing gives no scope for storytelling for obvious reasons! I have always had something of a storyteller in me (my Irish genes?) so I first started seriously writing on my blog.
I then wrote many articles and stories as a freelance writer hopefully honing my technique. Finally, I tested the waters with my first book all about my experiences of crazy drivers in the Philippines and published it on Amazon. That gave me the confidence to finish my memoir. More recently my confidence in my own writing has been boosted by being invited to become a HuffPost UK contributor and I now have two articles published there.
That confidence has been lifted higher still by some of the kind remarks made in Amazon reviews of my memoir relating to my writing style.
Can you give us just a taste of Undercover: Operation Julie – The Inside Story? A small anecdote perhaps?
Sure, and I guess the most dramatic part of my story and the book is the meeting with the Canadian gangster and drug dealer. He was talking about huge quantities of Bolivian cocaine and asking me to help import it into the UK.
It’s not unusual when deep undercover to be challenged by the “bad guys.” The Canadian did and held his fingers to my head shaped like a pistol. What followed was a mock execution with him making the “Pop! Pop!” sound of mimicking two bullets fired into my brain. That was his way of warning of the consequences if I turned out to be a cop. I am still here to tell the tale.
Tell us about your next release. And when can we expect it?
That’s a tough one to answer. I now have three book projects on the go and a fourth on the back burner. I really do have to decide which one to concentrate on first.
It will either be my debut novel based on undercover cops but pure fiction this time! Or it may be a sequel to my memoir as many people and readers seem to want to know more, not only about my undercover days but also other aspects of my life.
Maybe it will be the book about my paternal grandfather (see bio) but that is still at the research stage.
You can now understand why it’s a tough question. In any event I am hopeful a further book will be published by the end of 2017.
Book title: Undercover: Operation Julie – The Inside Story
Author: Stephen Bentley
Genre: True Crime/Memoir/Law Enforcement
Published: September 14, 2016
This unflinching memoir … opens up a world of drugs, crime, passion, and fear in a way that no other book has ever been able to do: because it’s true… Bentley’s sympathetic and yet tough view on those that he met and the people that both helped and hindered him is gripping, and his narrative sweep can sometimes make you forget that this is fact, not fiction – Review Excerpt
Operation Julie is still today the “point of reference” for all British undercover operations and training. The BBC in 2011 claimed this massive and unique police operation was the start of the “war on drugs.”
The author, Stephen Bentley, was one of four undercover detectives engaged on Operation Julie, one of the world’s largest drug busts. He, together with his undercover partner, not only infiltrated the gang producing around 90 percent of the world’s LSD but also uncovered a plot to import huge quantities of Bolivian cocaine into the UK.
The drugs underworld knew the author as Steve Jackson. How did he successfully infiltrate the two gangs? Did he have to take drugs? How did ‘living a lie’ affect him? Discover the answers and get inside the mind of Steve Jackson, undercover detective …
I found it a fascinating, straightforward, honest account of an insider who was in truth an outsider. It’s a tale of outrageous greed, lust, violence and the bravery of a few men who had an admirable goal and how they managed it. An insider’s perspective of the drug trade, told with charm, intelligence, and at times humor, by a talented man, uniquely qualified to dish the real story, who above all was an honest decent man. Just a plain good read. – Review Excerpt
Grab a copy today!
About the Author
Stephen Bentley is a former police Detective Sergeant and barrister (trial attorney) from the UK. He is now a freelance writer and HuffPost UK blogger. His memoir ‘Undercover: Operation Julie – The Inside Story’ is a frank account of his undercover detective experiences during Operation Julie – an elite group of detectives who successfully investigated one of the world’s largest drugs rings. When he isn’t writing, Stephen follows the (mis)fortunes of Liverpool Football Club from afar and relaxes on the beaches of the Philippines with his family where he now lives. Stephen is currently working on two books. He is writing his first novel. It is based on his real life undercover cop days. He is also writing a book about his paternal grandfather, a rating in the British Royal Navy. Able Seaman Frederick Bentley joined the Navy as a “boy sailor” in 1916 at the age of 17. He was on the Prince of Wales in 1941 when that ship was sunk by the Japanese in the South China Sea. His grandfather survived and remained in the Navy until 1945. He would like you to know that he will donate a portion of all book sales royalties to the James Bulger Memorial Trust, a UK registered charity.
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