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No Angel: My Harrowing Undercover Journey to the Inner Circle of the Hells Angels

Average Rating 4
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Most Helpful Favorable Review

10 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

Are You Kidding Me? Yes, It's That Damn Good!!!

I thought I knew the story of ATF Agent Jay `Jaybird¿ Dobyns after reading earlier books and seeing him interviewed on the History Channel, National Geographic and America¿s Most Wanted ¿ I was wrong.

Using his own words and in a fresh, interesting way Dobyns t...
I thought I knew the story of ATF Agent Jay `Jaybird¿ Dobyns after reading earlier books and seeing him interviewed on the History Channel, National Geographic and America¿s Most Wanted ¿ I was wrong.

Using his own words and in a fresh, interesting way Dobyns tells of his adventure working undercover on the Hells Angels biker gang.

For the purpose of balance and credibility, I admire good stories and good story telling but I am not necessarily a true crime or biker aficionado. As I read No Angel my reaction was just what I titled this comment ¿ ARE YOU KIDDING ME? IT IS THAT DAMN GOOD!!!

The writing of Dobyns and Nils Johnson-Shelton is well crafted and carries an original voice. The research is first person, spot-on accurate. The version I read was an advance release so I cannot comment on picture inserts.

Dobyns writes of his quest to become a Hells Angel and in doing so expands to so much more. No Angel contains all the prerequisites that a book of this genre is expected: discomforting scenes, violence, love, trust, betrayal and all the events that had him living life on the edge of a straight razor.

With murders swirling around him and being pressured to commit others (which he does but I won¿t spoil the story with details) on each page turn I feared what would next happen to our protagonist, Jaybird. But¿

No Angel is no common true crime thriller. It¿s viciously real on the personal front. If you expect Dobyns to follow the worn-out paths of others and attempt to convince you he is a superhero cop, you¿ll be disappointed. Humility and graciousness are clearly Dobyns character traits.

No police memoire has so openly bared the soul its subject since Serpico. Dobyns humbly suggests that he is no role model and that his courage is no stronger than that of any common man. He is honest and accountable for his mistakes telling us how he alienated his wife, ignored his children, lost his friends, and endured the questioning of his methods by bosses and peers as he trudged forward with a tunnel-visioned pursuit of the Hells Angels most coveted trophy, a Deathead center patch sewn to his vest.

Surprisingly, I believe that the Hells Angel gang members and their followers will applaud No Angel. They may not care for the infiltration element but their gang is treated with dignity. One senses that Dobyns carries a healthy respect for the Hells Angels - not in what they stand for but surely in what they are capable of.

Dobyns portrays his adversaries honestly; as brutal kings who reign worldwide over the wickedly violent biker culture regardless of the cost to themselves or others. Dobyns knows; he was there with them.

No Angel is the book that Sonny Barger didn¿t have the humility to write and the one that Dobyns himself surely guarded from other authors and media sources who tried to tell his story.

By a landslide No Angel is the best cop /criminal / true crime book to be published in a long, long time.

posted by 389501 on November 17, 2008

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Most Helpful Critical Review

7 out of 32 people found this review helpful.

No Angel

Ridiculous book. These undercover agents like these kinds of cases because it gives them the opportunity to live a lifestyle they fantasize about but don't have the guts to live. They can get out when the gettin gets tough. They build relationships involving trust and l...
Ridiculous book. These undercover agents like these kinds of cases because it gives them the opportunity to live a lifestyle they fantasize about but don't have the guts to live. They can get out when the gettin gets tough. They build relationships involving trust and love, then rat everybody out. The agent then justifies it by telling himself what a bunch of scum these guys are. At least members of these MC's are upfront about who they are. I don't understand how anybody can find anything honorable about being a rat. I thouhgt this book was full of stereotypes and biased information.

posted by 619Kitty on March 3, 2009

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 17, 2008

    I Also Recommend:

    Are You Kidding Me? Yes, It's That Damn Good!!!

    I thought I knew the story of ATF Agent Jay `Jaybird¿ Dobyns after reading earlier books and seeing him interviewed on the History Channel, National Geographic and America¿s Most Wanted ¿ I was wrong.<BR/><BR/>Using his own words and in a fresh, interesting way Dobyns tells of his adventure working undercover on the Hells Angels biker gang. <BR/><BR/>For the purpose of balance and credibility, I admire good stories and good story telling but I am not necessarily a true crime or biker aficionado. As I read No Angel my reaction was just what I titled this comment ¿ ARE YOU KIDDING ME? IT IS THAT DAMN GOOD!!!<BR/><BR/>The writing of Dobyns and Nils Johnson-Shelton is well crafted and carries an original voice. The research is first person, spot-on accurate. The version I read was an advance release so I cannot comment on picture inserts. <BR/><BR/>Dobyns writes of his quest to become a Hells Angel and in doing so expands to so much more. No Angel contains all the prerequisites that a book of this genre is expected: discomforting scenes, violence, love, trust, betrayal and all the events that had him living life on the edge of a straight razor. <BR/><BR/>With murders swirling around him and being pressured to commit others (which he does but I won¿t spoil the story with details) on each page turn I feared what would next happen to our protagonist, Jaybird. But¿<BR/><BR/>No Angel is no common true crime thriller. It¿s viciously real on the personal front. If you expect Dobyns to follow the worn-out paths of others and attempt to convince you he is a superhero cop, you¿ll be disappointed. Humility and graciousness are clearly Dobyns character traits. <BR/><BR/>No police memoire has so openly bared the soul its subject since Serpico. Dobyns humbly suggests that he is no role model and that his courage is no stronger than that of any common man. He is honest and accountable for his mistakes telling us how he alienated his wife, ignored his children, lost his friends, and endured the questioning of his methods by bosses and peers as he trudged forward with a tunnel-visioned pursuit of the Hells Angels most coveted trophy, a Deathead center patch sewn to his vest.<BR/><BR/>Surprisingly, I believe that the Hells Angel gang members and their followers will applaud No Angel. They may not care for the infiltration element but their gang is treated with dignity. One senses that Dobyns carries a healthy respect for the Hells Angels - not in what they stand for but surely in what they are capable of. <BR/><BR/>Dobyns portrays his adversaries honestly; as brutal kings who reign worldwide over the wickedly violent biker culture regardless of the cost to themselves or others. Dobyns knows; he was there with them.<BR/><BR/>No Angel is the book that Sonny Barger didn¿t have the humility to write and the one that Dobyns himself surely guarded from other authors and media sources who tried to tell his story. <BR/><BR/>By a landslide No Angel is the best cop /criminal / true crime book to be published in a long, long time.

    10 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted March 3, 2009

    No Angel

    Ridiculous book. These undercover agents like these kinds of cases because it gives them the opportunity to live a lifestyle they fantasize about but don't have the guts to live. They can get out when the gettin gets tough. They build relationships involving trust and love, then rat everybody out. The agent then justifies it by telling himself what a bunch of scum these guys are. At least members of these MC's are upfront about who they are. I don't understand how anybody can find anything honorable about being a rat. I thouhgt this book was full of stereotypes and biased information.

    7 out of 32 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted March 11, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    When you dance with the Devil.....

    Jay Dobyns does a good job of describing the psychological mechanics of undercover work. The quote "When you dance with the devil, you don't change him, he changes you" is appropriate.

    We all have a little bit of outlaw (lower case "o") in us. Who among us hasn't been tempted at some point to cross a threshold from which there's no return? Dobyns's story isn't just a true crime drama; aside from the fact that he's an ATF agent, his story could be your story or mine. His book gives us insight into what life would be like if we'd crossed that threshold and joined the ranks of fulltime criminals.

    Getting a glimpse into the subculture of OMGs was enlightening. Notwithstanding their supposed espousal of free living, partying and their disdain for mainstream society, these guys have more rules than Rainman and a devotion to heirarchy that would be hard to find even in the squarest, most rigid corporate culture. Sure, partying all night with dangerous illegal drugs and having groupies throw themselves at you like you're a rock star is appealing as a concept, but when your attendance at the party is mandatory, somehow it loses much of its appeal. Isn't doing what you want when you want the whole point of being an outlaw in the first place? Mandatory mayhem is tedious work. This seeming contradiction is a sub-theme of the book and in less capable hands "No Angel" might have been a simple cops and robbers story. But the writing team of Dobyns and Johson-Shelton delivers much more.

    The author is candid about the personal costs of undercover work, describing the emotional distress experienced by his wife and young children. While I applaud the author's willingness to share this aspect of undercover life where other writers would have downplayed it, given the relative risk posed to society by OMGs, putting agents' families through this is irresponsible at best, immoral at worst. Operation Black Biscuit didn't aim to save the world from a nuclear explosion or catch a serial killer. Ultimately operations like Black Biscuit are taxpayer financed games where cops can play superman. At times I was embarrassed for Dobyns, obsessed with his image and treating everyone around him like pawns.

    We learn in this book that Hells Angels are probably more supportive of their brothers than federal agencies are of their members. We learn that undercover agents are willing to put their families' lives on the line to further their career. It disgusted me and I was unable to root either for the HA or the ATF. The difference is the Hells Angels are not spending taxpayer money, so if I had to pick a side, and if there's a sequel I'll probably root for the bad guys.

    Step by step, Dobyns describes the elaborate schemes undercover agents and their handlers cook up to ensnare their suspects, yet you can't help but wonder if their time and our money would be better spent chasing people who are more dangerous to society. Do you double bolt your doors at night because you're afraid a Hells Angel will come in and get you? When was the last time you heard of Hells Angel flying a plane into a building, stealing an old lady's purse or sending the economy into a tail spin?

    This book is a great read, and it will change the way you look at OMGs and law enforcement's attempts to bring them down.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 24, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Hell Hath No Angel like Jay Dobyns

    Captivating from the first page, NO ANGEL thrusts the reader into the inner world of the outlaw motorcycle gang, the Hells Angels. This is the story of an obsessed man, who with the all-or-nothing mentality in his makeup becomes the first undercover law enforcement agent to penetrate this notorious group.

    The story is conveyed with brutal honesty. Jay Dobyns, using the alias "Bird" relies not only on his memories of the two year ATF case known as "Black Biscuit," but also on surveillance tapes and transcripts. They help provide detailed dialog between the operatives and their suspects. He puts you in the dark rooms, smoke-filled clubhouses, beer-soaked bars and inky tattoo parlors as you witness his transformation from a sandy-haired football star and all-American dad to a scary looking dude with a braided goatee. He becomes Bird.

    He also becomes a patched Hells Angel, sacrificing everything dear to him in the process: his family, his friends, and nearly his soul. In a moment, however, just before the case shuts down, he experiences a revelation. It's not merely about the good and evil among the Hells Angels or in himself, it was the basic understanding this "brotherhood" was "nothing more than a support group for misunderstood loners held together by hate and money." Immersed in this HATE for so long, he ultimately casts it aside for everything he LOVES, and expresses this personal epiphany with tremendous humility. In spite of a disappointing outcome for Black Biscuit and his exposure as an undercover agent, this makes Jay a hero, and makes NO ANGEL a story worth reading.

    There are many characters on both sides of the law and a slew of unfamiliar terminology and acronyms, but photos, glossaries maps and lists are provided to guide the reader. Very well done.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 22, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Operation Black Biscuit!

    Author Jay Dobyns became Jay "Bird" Davis and went undercover for the ATF into America's most dangerous, law breaking motorcycle gang, the Hells Angels!

    Operation BLACK-BISCUIT was an ATF sting, that placed Jay Dobyns and several other agents and informants into the world of Hells Angels. Dobyns a.k.a. "Bird" admits in the book, he was in so deep, he eventually realized that the Hells Angels weren't all bad and that he wasn't all good! Fitting as it was for the operation, the undercover agents motto throughout was (JHAP) - Jesus Hates a P**sy-

    "Bird" isn't your average undercover, he's got tattoo sleeves on both arms, earrings, built like a truck and has a long braided goatee. He played the part of Hells Angel wanna be perfectly, obviously going above and beyond your normal undercover. He drank, smoked, slammed Red Bulls throughout his undercover duty, never took any illegal drugs, but had an obession with Hydroxycut pills!

    His cover was never really in question, but a few funny moments in the book are when "Bird", almost blows it, his cell phone ring tone is Nelly and he shows up to the Hells Angels club house in flip flops. Hells Angels obviously aren't into rap and they wear boots, not shower shoes...

    The book is written well and keeps a good pace throughout. You will not be bored reading "No Angel", its a top notch true crime novel. Alot of unsavory bikers and meth heads along the way, the ATF recovered numerous guns, drugs, explosives, money and served 50 search & arrest warrants on Hells Angels members when the operation concluded.

    Dobyns sacrificed his family, friends and co-workers to infiltrate the Angels and is one of the two only undercover federal agents (Operation Black Biscuit) to become full fledged (patched in) Hells Angels. The ATF sting didn't ruin or crush the Hells Angels motorcycle gang as they may have hoped, but as "Bird" puts it, we showed them, you are not untouchable, you are not invincible and you are definitely not smarter than the good guys!

    Highly recommended (true) story~

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 7, 2011

    Addictive

    Most people will look at the cover and set the book right back down. I, on the other hand, bought it. It was one of the best books I've read in a long time. This book lets you look into the life of a Hell's Angel. Everyone should read it just to take a peek.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 15, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Amazing Book!

    I really liked this book. It was thrilling, captivating, and it delved really deep into the shadowy world of the Hells Angels. A great read for anyone interested in Law Enforcement or anyone who likes the True Crime genre.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 23, 2010

    Good book...

    Very exciting story... sometimes a little too self-indulgent by Jay but overrall it was exciting to hear how he infiltrated the Hells Angels. I got the impression that it seemed a little too easy for him to sneak his way into the "family" and it would have helped the book to maybe have a little more detail put into some of the chapters. I find it hard to believe that all the Hells Angels fell for this act so easily so I question whether things went down exactly as Dobyns says they did but that is my opinion.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 13, 2009

    Good for civilians to understand why police have certain minds sets and can be a different group of people.

    I found this book to be enlightening for several reasons. When I was a police officer in Oakland the club house was on my beat, I will say no more. I think that this book shows the life that officers have to live when they have two different lives going on that are both demanding. I found this to be true with the military spouse as well, they may not be undercover, but the job leads you make a separations in your mind that over time becomes harder to control. I think that this book shows that this is not an easy thing to do.
    I was hoping that he would write a book to show how he brought his family back together, this is what we need in society with the high police and military divorce rate.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 12, 2009

    No Angel is AWESOME!

    This is a very cool book. When I read it (I stayed home from work because I read the first few pages and couldn't stop) it sounds like fiction BUT ITS NOT! Its a real story about a real undercover agent who got involved in some wild stuff. I am going to read it again this weekend.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 20, 2013

    I Also Recommend:

    Good book but a rat is rat. What comes around goes around.

    Good book but a rat is rat. What comes around goes around.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 8, 2011

    A let down - sorry to say

    I really wanted to like this book but it just did not live up to my expectations. I am a fan of this genre - but this is the weakest I have read. Short on substance and long on self pity and overly inflated opinion of the authors importance and achievements (he did not even "patch" with the HA) And alright already, we know how you feel about your wife not understanding you and your boss not appreciating you hard work (I guess I could write a book on that subject myself) but please.... how often do we have to hear it in your book. I could not get emotionally involved inn this book and when I finished it I asked myself - "Is that it?" I would recommend "Under and Alone" over this book any day. Sorry not for me - YMMV

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 31, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Average

    I am a motorcycle enthusiast and I love to read. I was looking forward to reading this book and found it to be average. The author does not have good descriptive writing skills, so it was hard to envision the scene and imagine the surroundings. You did not get a sense of what Jay was feeling unless he came out and just told you. Also, there were plenty of missed opportunities to add more suspense to the story. I enjoyed the overall story line and appreciate what Jay did in his line of work. I feel that they missed an opportunity to turn the book in to an exhilarating thrill ride.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 7, 2011

    awsome

    I couldn't put it down!!!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 22, 2014

    Not impressed

    This is not as good as it was hyped up to be. It is an attempt to feed off the ATF 'under and alone' book, but it fails to live up to it. Plus, this case didn't get prosecuted, so we shouldn't be reading about a failed case

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 19, 2014

    Echosong

    Locked out there

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 28, 2014

    Pearlstar

    Here I am.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 1, 2014

    Glosslight

    I nevah get border patrol. Fooos, ROO DAAAAAH! *explodes*

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 28, 2014

    Jayclan High-Log

    A fallen log on the edge of camp served as the High-Log. Here, the leader got up and made announcements. The deputy also posted the patrols here every morning.<br>
    ~$ilverstar

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 27, 2014

    Great Read

    This book was as good as I thought it would be!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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