Because Ideas Matter...
The faculty and staff of Butler University's College of Liberal
Arts and Sciences presents
No Angel: My Harrowing Undercover Journey to
the Inner Circle of the Hells Angels
by Jay Dobyns and Nils Johnson-Shelton, Crown, 2009
Reviewed by J. Rocky Colavito
No Angel is a heart-wrenching chronicle of
one man's dark night of the soul, and a welcome addition to the
ranks of crime and crime fighting memoirs. Dobyns, a former college
football player, survives being shot in the chest on one of his
first assignments, recovers, and is subsequently drafted into
Operation Black Biscuit, a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms
undercover operation targeting the Hells Angels. Dobyns sinks
himself, mind and body, into the job, gaining the confidence of the
very objects of his investigation and insinuating himself into the
inner circles of the motorcycle gang.
The memoir reveals Dobyns's growing fascination with the outlaw
life, playing it off against the tensions with his wife. The
ultimate irony is that the investigation doesn't "take down" the
Hells Angles, and Dobyns's methods are subsequently called to
question by lawyers and the ATF. Dobyns is ostensibly cashiered
from the ATF because of the baggage he acquires from the
experience. He now lives with the loss of the personal and
professional lives he knew, along with the recurring death threats
against himself and his family from the very souls whose confidence
he curried and whose lives entranced him.
Dobyns chronicles the activities of the Hells Angels with the
same meticulous eye and unwavering forthrightness that he turns
upon his own growing addictions to adrenaline highs and Hydroxycut,
leaving the reader to ponder the scars left by what he put himself
through. Arresting throughout, I couldn't put it down.
- J. Rocky Colavito is professor of English and Director of
Writing Programs at Butler University.