NO ANGEL

About a month back I started to read a book called NO ANGEL (Random House), a non-fiction account written by Jay Dobyns and Nils Johnson-Shelton about Dobyns’ undercover work with the Hell Angels.

Normally, I read quickly.  There is always a book in my bag and in my car. Reading is a passion, and nothing beats the smell of a printed book – just open any book, press the pages up to your face and inhale.  You’ll get what I mean.

But this time I had competition.  My husband saw NO ANGEL sitting on the kitchen table and picked it up.  He opened it to the front page, read the dedication and the subject and looked at me.

“It’s about an ATF agent who went undercover to bust the Hells Angels,” I said.

“Really?”

“Really.  I’m only at Chapter Two, but I think you’d like it.”

He paused, then flipped to the beginning titled “Part 1, THE END” and started to read.  A few minutes later he sat down at the table.  A few minutes after that he wandered into the living room, sat on the couch and settled in.  So began my task of reading a book I would have normally devoured in a week to then reading in spits and spurts over the next several weeks.

Now let me tell you this – the author Dobyns has knackers the size of Texas.  He went undercover to infiltrate an organized crime agency with roots deep in American and Canadian culture. I’ve dealt with more than a few HA’s in my days as a patrol officer in East Vancouver and by no account is this group ignorant, stupid or uneducated – it’s just the opposite.  They are organized.  They are intelligent.  They are educated (at least up here in Canada they are).

That’s why NO ANGEL is an impressive read.  Dobyns and his team made it to the center of the Arizona Charter, gaining the trust and friendship of long time Hells Angels while pretending to be gunrunners and hit-men.  In the end, charges were brought against almost fifty people.  Hundreds of weapons were seized, as were explosives and ammunition.

The controversy surrounding the actual subject of the book, Operation Black Biscuit, is deep and convoluted. For his troubles, Dobyns and his family have received death threats, and the ATF is alleged to have mishandled the threats.  NO ANGEL is likely Dobyns’ way of explaining what he did, and why he did it.  If you read between the lines you can still only guess as to how difficult an assignment it was for Dobyns and the entire team.  In the end, Dobyns’ said he would do it all again.

The life of an undercover agent, particularly the life of an agent like Dobyns who surrendered his own identity in the pursuit of justice, cannot be easy.  It is not a life I’d ever want but without officers willing to do what Dobyns did we would not have a chance against organized crime.

With lawsuits and death threats still looming, it’ll be interesting to see where the story continues to go…

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2 Responses to "NO ANGEL"

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