Book-writing as therapy is nothing new. Countless examples exist of life stories so extraordinary — or in this case, traumatic — that rather than looking to entertain or win respect, the author just wants to externalise the experience for the sake of mental tranquillity.
Written under the guise of “a novel of a life”, the plainly titled Undercover is such an example of one man getting bad memories off his chest in a readable fashion.
First-timer Keith Bulfin fits the above description snugly. Although he has said that this first-person account of his time working for the US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) is “90 per cent” truth (names of people and places have been changed to protect those involved), Undercover is essentially a memoir. But into his extraordinary story he adds a smattering of novelistic devices to ensure Joe Reader finds page-turning entertainment in anecdotes that made the author literally wet himself in fear for his very life. Already, during the gruesomely tense prologue, it’s a discomforting premise for the reader.