Review: The year's best Police procedural

Strange Things Happen: A Life with The Police, Polo and Pygmies
By Stewart Copeland
Publisher UK: The Friday Project US: HarperStudio

Just because I write crime fiction doesn’t make me obsessed by The Police. However, this new memoir by The Police drummer is absolutely the most delightful surprise of the year. Copeland writes with the same verve and invention he displays in his deceptively tricky drumming. Turns out he’s the son of the CIA Beirut station chief and grew up frolicking in the Mediterranean waves with the son of Kim Philby, the British spy who was a double agent for Moscow. The book is excellent on Copeland’s early days with the band Curved Air (he used to write letters to music newspapers assuming the identity of fans: “I just saw Curved Air. They’re great, and who’s that amazing drummer…”) The early days of The Police are handled inventively, and he writes about his second career scoring film soundtracks with great intelligence. The greatest pleasure is to see The Police’s reunion tour from the inside. There’s a lot of creativity and bemusement as Copeland finds himself once again playing with Sting and Andy Summers, being feted everywhere. He’s also great on the resurrection of the nettlesome relationship with the band’s most famous member. (At one gig in Turin, Sting keeps turning toward him and angrily mouthing that he ought to play differently. Copeland, who’s in his 50s and has been banging the tubs since he was 12, begs to differ. Mid-concert he finds himself screaming into his drums: “You fucking—Fucking—Fuckkkkinnnng bastard!”) Could’ve titled this one: “Sometimes Even Millionaires Wonder Why the Hell They’re Doing What They Do.”

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