Dick’s Squad history is arresting

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DICK Kirby had two stints in London’s Flying Squad, so why did he wait until his sixth book to do a history of it?

“All my books have had references to the Flying Squad,” he said. “But the main thing is that nobody wanted to publish this until Pen and Sword came along.”

Had the 67-year-old from Great Whelnetham written a dry history in PC Plod language, other publishers’ reluctance might have been reasonable. But Dick’s book The Sweeney (£19.99) is full of characters, car chases and criminals. From the beginning, he lets the action tell the history, starting with a pitched battle between the Squad and a bullion gang raiding Heathrow in 1948.

He follows the Squad’s ups and downs from its horse-drawn beginnings in 1919 to its recovery from corruption scandals of the 1970s.

Dick admits: “I always did enjoy writing and I got my credentials by composing complicated reports for the Director of Public Prosecutions. I went on to magazine articles and books.”

He has an eye for quirky facts but he has omitted one. The reason the Flying Squad was often called The Sweeney is not obvious to those unfamiliar with London rhyming slang. JH