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NO ANGEL

MY HARROWING UNDERCOVER JOURNEY TO THE INNER CIRCLE OF THE HELLS ANGELS

A good yarn better told in Joe Pistone’s Donnie Brasco(1987), as well as Alex Caine’s forthcoming Befriend and Betray.

Veteran ATF agent Dobyns’s account of his infiltration into the Hells Angels reveals the violence, paranoia and numbing boredom of the bikers’ world.

He entered that world in 2001 in Arizona as Jay “Bird” Davis, with a prefabricated reputation as a gun dealer, enforcer and hit man. His goal was to build a case that the Angels controlled criminal activity among bikers in that state so that charges might be brought against them. To do this he needed to gain their trust, which he quickly did. With his tattoos, greasy hair and, of course, Harley-Davidson motorcycle, he looked like them. With his apparent nihilistic rage and willingness at all times to commit violence, especially in protection of his brother Angels, he acted like them. But in reality, nothing much happened. Dobyns made minor gun deals, bought small amounts of drugs, gathered and recorded evidence bit by bit. His brother bikers seemed to spend their time drinking beer and cheap whiskey, having sex with women who more often than not were burned-out meth addicts. They held endless meetings over huge piles of waffles at greasy diners. For all their rebel persona, the Angels had more rules than a convent or a corporation. But the violence, while mostly implied, was definitely there. Dobyns learned of a shootout in a bar between the Angels and their hated rivals the Mongols. He heard of a woman stomped to death at an Angels clubhouse for disrespecting them. Still, inevitably and predictably, Jay became Bird, and his suburban home, wife and kids became traps he wished to escape so he could return to his brother outlaws, among whom he found perverse love and protection. In the end, though many charges were filed against the Angels, there were few convictions. Bird returned to being Jay, having learned that the Angels are not all bad and he is not all good.

A good yarn better told in Joe Pistone’s Donnie Brasco(1987), as well as Alex Caine’s forthcoming Befriend and Betray.

Pub Date: Feb. 10, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-307-40585-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2008

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KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON

THE OSAGE MURDERS AND THE BIRTH OF THE FBI

Dogged original research and superb narrative skills come together in this gripping account of pitiless evil.

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Greed, depravity, and serial murder in 1920s Oklahoma.

During that time, enrolled members of the Osage Indian nation were among the wealthiest people per capita in the world. The rich oil fields beneath their reservation brought millions of dollars into the tribe annually, distributed to tribal members holding "headrights" that could not be bought or sold but only inherited. This vast wealth attracted the attention of unscrupulous whites who found ways to divert it to themselves by marrying Osage women or by having Osage declared legally incompetent so the whites could fleece them through the administration of their estates. For some, however, these deceptive tactics were not enough, and a plague of violent death—by shooting, poison, orchestrated automobile accident, and bombing—began to decimate the Osage in what they came to call the "Reign of Terror." Corrupt and incompetent law enforcement and judicial systems ensured that the perpetrators were never found or punished until the young J. Edgar Hoover saw cracking these cases as a means of burnishing the reputation of the newly professionalized FBI. Bestselling New Yorker staff writer Grann (The Devil and Sherlock Holmes: Tales of Murder, Madness, and Obsession, 2010, etc.) follows Special Agent Tom White and his assistants as they track the killers of one extended Osage family through a closed local culture of greed, bigotry, and lies in pursuit of protection for the survivors and justice for the dead. But he doesn't stop there; relying almost entirely on primary and unpublished sources, the author goes on to expose a web of conspiracy and corruption that extended far wider than even the FBI ever suspected. This page-turner surges forward with the pacing of a true-crime thriller, elevated by Grann's crisp and evocative prose and enhanced by dozens of period photographs.

Dogged original research and superb narrative skills come together in this gripping account of pitiless evil.

Pub Date: April 18, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-385-53424-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Feb. 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017

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IN COLD BLOOD

"There's got to be something wrong with somebody who'd do a thing like that." This is Perry Edward Smith, talking about himself. "Deal me out, baby...I'm a normal." This is Richard Eugene Hickock, talking about himself. They're as sick a pair as Leopold and Loeb and together they killed a mother, a father, a pretty 17-year-old and her brother, none of whom they'd seen before, in cold blood. A couple of days before they had bought a 100 foot rope to garrote them—enough for ten people if necessary. This small pogrom took place in Holcomb, Kansas, a lonesome town on a flat, limitless landscape: a depot, a store, a cafe, two filling stations, 270 inhabitants. The natives refer to it as "out there." It occurred in 1959 and Capote has spent five years, almost all of the time which has since elapsed, in following up this crime which made no sense, had no motive, left few clues—just a footprint and a remembered conversation. Capote's alternating dossier Shifts from the victims, the Clutter family, to the boy who had loved Nancy Clutter, and her best friend, to the neighbors, and to the recently paroled perpetrators: Perry, with a stunted child's legs and a changeling's face, and Dick, who had one squinting eye but a "smile that works." They had been cellmates at the Kansas State Penitentiary where another prisoner had told them about the Clutters—he'd hired out once on Mr. Clutter's farm and thought that Mr. Clutter was perhaps rich. And this is the lead which finally broke the case after Perry and Dick had drifted down to Mexico, back to the midwest, been seen in Kansas City, and were finally picked up in Las Vegas. The last, even more terrible chapters, deal with their confessions, the law man who wanted to see them hanged, back to back, the trial begun in 1960, the post-ponements of the execution, and finally the walk to "The Corner" and Perry's soft-spoken words—"It would be meaningless to apologize for what I did. Even inappropriate. But I do. I apologize." It's a magnificent job—this American tragedy—with the incomparable Capote touches throughout. There may never have been a perfect crime, but if there ever has been a perfect reconstruction of one, surely this must be it.

Pub Date: Jan. 7, 1965

ISBN: 0375507906

Page Count: 343

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Oct. 10, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1965

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