CHAIN OF EVIDENCE: A True Story of Law Enforcement and One Woman's Bravery by Michael Detroit

CHAIN OF EVIDENCE: A True Story of Law Enforcement and One Woman's Bravery

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Detroit's story of an undercover sting operation into the Hell's Angels is quick and breezy but insults the reader with its sketchy rendering of a fascinating scenario. One can sympathize with Detroit (a pseudonymous screenwriter), whose account of a police infiltration of the notorious biker gang, naturally invites comparisons with Hunter S. Thompson's authoritative tale. This sparse made-for-TV product pales next to Thompson's searing depictions of life with the Angels. One day in 1977, Orange County police detective Victoria Seele (Detroit uses fictional names throughout the book) accepts an assignment to ride on the back of Clifford Mowery's Harley-Davidson. Mowery, a hardscrabble biker and convict with a long rap sheet, grudgingly offers to serve as an informant in order to stay out of jail. For eight months, the two crisscross Southern California making undercover drug buys from motorcycle-gang members. Seele, with her surfer looks, awkwardly survives parties at which she is the only one not using drugs and not wearing the typical biker garb (denim vest, waist chains, and strap-on buck knife). During one particularly vulgar Angels party, Seele nearly jumps into bed with two other women in order not to blow her cover. Detroit sprays his text with scare phrases, telling us, in case we haven't caught on, that these people are dangerous, and here Seele is risking her life. Occasionally, we are given glimpses into Seele's supposedly deteriorating home life, but like the rest of the details here, these scenes lack the power necessary to instill even a meager visceral attachment to the characters. The pieces (and sources) for a spectacular story are here: leather-clad bikers, courageous cops, and a backdrop of Southern California's sleaziest bars and dustiest back roads. But for all its drama, this is, in the end, forgettable.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1994
Page count: 272pp
Publisher: Dutton