Book reviews from The Free Lance-Star.
One-two punch of nonfiction
IF YOU’VE never been smacked in the face by literature, now’s your chance. George Rowe’s “Gods of Mischief” is a fist of non-fiction that uses its 336 fingers to create a punch of prose capable of knocking you to the ground. It’s that punishing. And best of all, this adrenaline-driven tale about taking down one of America’s most notorious biker gangs is absolutely true.
If you’re a fan of the television show “Sons of Anarchy,” you’ve found your literary equivalent. The story starts with a profile of the Vagos motorcycle gang, a nefarious bunch of bikers who’ve terrorized Hemet, Calif., for decades. Unlike most motorcycle crews who adopt a “PG” approach to riding, the Vagos operate under a rated-R mind-set fueled by brutality, murder and mayhem. To George, a former drug dealer, addict and street fighter, the Vagos were nothing more than a pack of motorcycle meatheads hiding behind their green patches. That is, until one of his friends is brutally beaten over a billiards brouhaha. It is at this point that the former convict decides to disavow his destructive past and commit himself to stopping the Vagos for good.
Eager to end their hog-riding reign, George becomes an informant for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, marking the first time a private citizen voluntarily infiltrated an outlaw motorcycle gang on behalf of the government. Fueled by personal redemption, “Big George” spends three years earning his way into the heart of the gang, riding and nearly dying alongside the members he’s secretly planning to put away. Throughout his pulse-quickening journey, George falls in love with a drug-addicted woman named Jenna, secretly collects evidence that will destroy the thriving gang and finds himself wondering on a daily basis: How far do you go to destroy the people who, at any given moment, can destroy you?
If books were drugs, “Gods of Mischief” would be an anabolic steroid. Pumped up with the kind of prose that’s beefy in detail and addictive in nature, this true tale may be one of the year’s most electrifying and gritty reads. From the get-go, George invites us into an outright scary world few have ever seen—so dangerous that George is now protected by the goverment—and even fewer would survive. Pound for pound, this is one of the most nail-biting novels you’ll find in any genre this year. If you enjoy reading books that will keep your eyelids propped up for hours, you’ve found your nonfiction nirvana.
Nicholas Addison Thomas is a freelance writer in Fredericksburg.
GODS OF MISCHIEF:My Undercover Vendetta to Take Down the Vagos Outlaw Motorcycle Gang
By George Rowe
(Touchstone, $25.99, 336 pp.)
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