NO ANGEL by Jay Dobyns


My Harrowing Undercover Journey to the Inner Circle of the Hells Angels
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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. 10th, 2009
ISBN: 978-0-307-40585-2
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: Crown
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1st, 2008