A Master of Deception: Working Undercover for the RCMP.


352 pages
Contains Photos, Bibliography, Index
ISBN 978-1-897113-66-0
DDC 363.2092




Alexander David Kurke is a criminal lawyer in Sudbury, Ontario.


Robert Knuckle tells the story of Carl MacLeod, whose 32 years with the RCMP well deserve recognition. An overview chapter takes MacLeod from Prince Edward Island, where he was born and raised, to Ontario, where he learned policing and got a taste for the war on drugs. Along the way, he met and married a very understanding woman. After a brief stint with the hard-drug unit in Toronto, MacLeod served for a time in Hamilton, which he left after learning that a local drug dealer had put a contract on his life. MacLeod returned to the Toronto area, where he performed undercover drug work, went after proceeds of crime, and then served on an organized crime task force.


Knuckle next describes undercover work for the RCMP, and MacLeod’s introduction to it in Toronto. We accompany MacLeod as a junior Mountie in Hamilton, dealing with a moonshine producer, violent drug addicts, enforcers, and bikers. Knuckle goes on from there to describe several of MacLeod’s undercover operations —successful and otherwise. The next three chapters, “Toronto Conspiracy,” “The Chinese Connection,” and “Paris” narrate larger undercover operations in which MacLeod participated.


Chapter 8, “Dirty Cops,” a nice counterpoint to MacLeod’s own story, tells the sorry tales of Mountie Patrick Kelly, convicted of murdering his wife, and of several “dirty” officers. In the next several chapters, Knuckle describes cases from MacLeod’s time in the Anti-Drug Profiteering Unit; large-scale undercover projects involving Pakistan- and Colombia-based drug conspiracies; and the failed “Project Overseer,” a joint organized crime project conducted by the RCMP and the American DEA. Chapter 13, “Organized Crime in Hamilton,” concerns MacLeod’s time as commander of the Joint Forces Unit, and is perhaps the most interesting chapter in the book. Toward the end of an impressive career, we find MacLeod performing undercover duty in the Passport and Immigration section. An epilogue takes us into MacLeod’s retirement.


This book will interest true crime aficionados, but is sometimes hampered by a lifeless, repetitive, and gossipy writing style, reading at times more like a wedding encomium crammed with picturesque anecdotes than the story promised by the title.


Knuckle, Robert., “A Master of Deception: Working Undercover for the RCMP.,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 20, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/28042.