Smokescreen: One Man Against the Underworld


362 pages
Contains Photos, Index
ISBN 0-7737-3323-X
DDC 363.24'2




Reviewed by Louis A. Knafla

Louis A. Knafla is a professor of history at the University of Calgary,
the coeditor of Law, Society, and the State: Essays in Modern Legal
History, and the author of Lords of the Western Bench.


Calvin Broeker’s life as a successful New York businessman came to an
abrupt halt in 1992, when he discovered that his wife was having an
affair with his brother, his business associates were mismanaging his
assets, and his Montreal business partners were part of a global network
of organized crime. Instead of giving up, he volunteered to work as an
undercover agent for both the U.S. Secret Service and the RCMP. In the
course of infiltrating biker gangs, drug cartels, Mohawk smuggling
operations, and the Russian Mafia, he became one of the most successful
government agents of his era.

The authors believe that organized crime is a larger threat to society
than the Cold War or the War on Terror, and the evidence they present in
this book is compelling. Their well-crafted narrative of “crime and
punishment, war and peace” is based on tapes, police transcripts,
notes by Broeker and his colleagues, and interviews with key players. As
it unfolds, Broeker, who became a Canadian citizen in 1999, evolves from
a neophyte government agent to a man “who, after his season in hell,
has finally found himself.” Although Smokescreen has a few problems
(such as verbatim speeches from dying men that were witnessed by no one
but the never-found killer), it should stand the test of time in the
competitive world of criminal biography.


Roberts, Paul William, and Norman Snider., “Smokescreen: One Man Against the Underworld,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed May 27, 2024,