Even if you've only had a very fleeting interest in the goings on of one of Australia's most (in)famous cops, then ROGER ROGERSON is going to be an extremely intriguing read. Whilst it's the story of the man, and the myth that developed around him, it's also an important reminder of how that sort of myth building can skew law, order and society behaviour. For all the "bit of a rogue / hail fellow well met" persona that Rogerson built around himself, he shouldn't be a bit of a celebrity, or a figure of gentle affection for anybody and this book shows you exactly why.
McNab provides valuable insight into Rogerson's background, and that of his fellow-accused Glen McNamara, as an insider who knew all about them from his own days in the NSW Police Force, to contacts within the force and in the general community, and as an observer of the force from the point of a view of a journalist for many years. This is not just the story of the murder trial, it provides past and present angles that reader's may not necessarily have been given the opportunity to consider before. Particularly that of the Internal Affairs department, on whose desks various allegations against Rogerson have appeared over the years.
McNab is definitely no fan of Rogerson - and not just because he was directly threatened by the man when his first book on Rogerson (DODGER) was released. But he's not alone there, and the external persona that Rogerson was fond of portraying - the twinkle in the eye, the smiling, hearty bloke / one of the people façade is something that quite a few people had seen through a long time ago, alas with not quite enough evidence to be able to prove many of the allegations made. It also feels very much like McNab is scrupulously fair with his retelling of facts, and sometimes understandably acerbic in his observations. There was never any doubt in this readers mind about which was which.
The book ROGER ROGERSON also answered a heap of questions that were in this reader's mind when the charge of murder was first announced. It was hard to believe that somebody as wily and cunning as Rogerson would have been so easily caught out in such a murder. It was even harder to believe that McNamara - who spent years styling himself as a crusading ex-cop, committed to exposing paedophilia, virulently anti-drugs was somehow involved in a drug deal gone wrong. Stories of his researching a book seemed thin to say the least, but the gobsmacking bit was his hero-worship of Rogerson and the ease with which they seemed to have been identified as potential suspects in this crime. It seems that Rogerson might have been a handful in his day, but technology and conceit combined to make the untouchable very vulnerable.
This is a book that provides a lot of valuable and telling insights. Into corruption and how easily it can become entrenched. How backgrounds and stories can be built by individuals, and conflated by others for their own ends (there's a piece of political expediency here that should not have come as a particular surprise, but was still nonetheless startling). It's also a telling take on "celebrity crime" - criminals who are urban legends, or in this case, a corrupt and very dodgy cop who built himself into an urban legend, allowing everybody to conveniently ignore the damage and carnage left in his wake.