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The Circuit    by Jacquieline Davis order for
by Jacquieline Davis
Order:  USA  Can
Lucky Press, 2003 (1998)
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Jacquieline Davis tells her own story, with typical English reserve and understatement. I could not put it down. Discreet about her clients, she still gives us glimpses into the exciting world of those who like to work as extreme risk-takers. Are they knights on white chargers, adrenaline junkies or a bit of both? Read The Circuit and form your own opinion.

At nineteen, Davis started out as a policewoman with attitude. Realizing that there would be few upward opportunities for a woman, she tried moonlighting as a bodyguard, and soon became one of the few women ever to work on the Circuit. She enjoyed this first bodyguard role (for a Gulf kingdom sheikha and her children at the Intercontinental Hotel) so much that she signed on for special training. At the same time, Davis married fellow police officer Tim. He turned out to be a traditional, but unfaithful, husband who had increasing concerns about her job, while enjoying its income.

The author describes a variety of undercover assignments to identify shoplifters, a continuing protection role for the Gulf royal family (of whom she says that 'Inner resources were not in their repertoire'), and 'tom squad' work at the Hilton to curb prostitution. Her success did not sit well with Tim, who left. She gives only brief mention to her own feelings about major events like this in her life, or to the causes of her bulimia. Later she serendipitously joins a support group for 'co-dependency', and it seems that she realizes that there is an addiction aspect to her choice of lifestyle.

Davis describes a succession of successful undercover roles to uncover pervasive industrial fraud, an unpleasant (and especially unhygienic) stint with protesters at the Greenham Common Peace Camp, another to infiltrate a union action, and a variety to follow errant spouses. Then she takes a tough, violent position in policing a luxury cruise ship and car ferry that sailed every other day from England to Holland with up to two thousand passengers (often including soccer fans.) During this period, Davis met senior 'fair-haired' captain Thomas, with whom she enjoyed a long-term relationship. She tells us that he taught her to see beyond black and white to shades of gray.

Davis tracks down drug dealers and a pedophile. She completes Mata Hari style assignments using knockout drops, supervizes teams of bodyguards, and runs training tours for Sri Lankans and Egyptians. She recounts funny and sad episodes, which break the tension from time to time. After she befriends Ann and Buddy of International Security Services, they get her involved in child rescue - children held against their mother's will, or foreign women held in countries like Saudi Arabia, the Yemen and Columbia. Davis describes successes and failures, all fascinating and disturbing.

There are brief accidental encounters with celebrities like Bono of U2, Stephen Spielberg, Luciano Pavarotti, and Billy Crystal. Jacquieline Davis works on Jo Rowling's security on several Harry Potter book tours. She finishes her story with her own 9/11 experiences - Davis was on an airplane en route from Heathrow to North Carolina and was re-routed to Boston. An Afterword suggests what we all can do in 'Caring for our communities', and discusses Davis's continuing teaching work in 'awareness and self-protection.'

If you've ever wondered about the reality behind James Bond or Modesty Blaise, then dig into The Circuit; you'll be glued to the pages like I was.

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