Good Guy, Bad Guy: Drugs and the Changing Face of Organized Crime


456 pages
Contains Photos
ISBN 0-394-22172-9
DDC 364.1'77




Reviewed by Sarah Robertson

Sarah Robertson is an editor in the College Division of Nelson Canada.


In his most recent book, the author of Hell’s Angels provides a
sweeping overview of drugs and organized crime that covers both the
Canadian and international scenes. A preliminary history of gangsterism
and drug trafficking in North America is followed by chapters on black
and Asian organized crime, drug cartels, narco-terrorism, interdiction
methods, clandestine drug laboratories, outlaw motorcycle/prison gangs,
and a wealth of other pertinent topics.

Lavigne affects a macho style that recalls Rolling Stone at its most
puerile. His 1986 series for The Globe & Mail on Asian organized crime
provoked charges of racism, and whether or not the statistics gathered
in Good Guy, Bad Guy are sound, Lavigne’s characterizations of the
people they describe are frequently offensive and gratuitous. That the
book is almost pure reportage is perhaps owing to its ambitious breadth.
Analysis might, of course, have interrupted the relentless flow of drug
vignettes—a print equivalent of the sound bites—that seem designed
not to elucidate but to shock.

But if Lavigne’s “analysis” of the issue of drug legalization is
any indication, his customary adherence to facts might in fact be a
blessing. Lavigne concedes the painful inadequacy of the current war on
drugs, and discerns a solution not in legalization but in turning what
has hitherto been an enforcement war into a “real” (i.e., military)
war against drug traffickers, whom the author in all seriousness
recommends be shot on sight—as he so eloquently prescribes, “Give
them a taste of lead. Waste the scum.” No matter that a few pages back
this same author huffs and puffs about the inviolability of the rule of
law. Lavigne’s rule of law sounds remarkably like frontier justice,
Hollywood-style—and just about as credible.


Lavigne, Yves., “Good Guy, Bad Guy: Drugs and the Changing Face of Organized Crime,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed April 16, 2024,