The “Mr. Big” Sting: The Cases, the Killers, the Controversial Confessions

ECW. Sept. 2021. 220p. ISBN 9781770416123. pap. $19.95. CRIME
Sociologist Stobbe introduces readers to “Mr. Big,” a crime-fighting tactic developed by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in the early 1990s. Police create a fictional crime organization that the target (usually a suspect in a cold case) joins; Mr. Big, an interrogator posing as the leader of the group, informs the suspect that he is aware of their previous crimes and that they will be rewarded—with membership in the gang or with money—if they offer up a detailed confession. Stobbe describes the complicated psychology involved. However, though he presents fascinating case studies and court rulings that have determined when this strategy can be employed, he fails to make an entirely convincing case for using Mr. Big. Many defendants at trial have stated that they were coerced, an issue the author doesn’t fully explore. In fact, Stobbe argues that Mr. Big is seemingly the only way to convict some of these murderers.
VERDICT Though the fascinating case studies here may interest true crime fans, Stobbe’s argument that police should rely on the Mr. Big strategy ultimately falls flat.
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