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

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

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by Jay Dobyns, Nils Johnson-Shelton

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Here, from Jay Dobyns, the first federal agent to infiltrate the inner circle of the outlaw Hells Angels Motorcycle Club, is the inside story of the twenty-one-month operation that almost cost him his family, his sanity, and his life.

Getting shot in the chest as a rookie agent, bartering for machine guns, throttling down the highway at 100 mph, and responding…  See more details below


Here, from Jay Dobyns, the first federal agent to infiltrate the inner circle of the outlaw Hells Angels Motorcycle Club, is the inside story of the twenty-one-month operation that almost cost him his family, his sanity, and his life.

Getting shot in the chest as a rookie agent, bartering for machine guns, throttling down the highway at 100 mph, and responding to a full-scale, bloody riot between the Hells Angels and their rivals, the Mongols–these are just a few of the high-adrenaline experiences Dobyns recounts in this action-packed, hard-to-imagine-but-true story.

Dobyns leaves no stone of his harrowing journey unturned. At runs and clubhouses, between rides and riots, Dobyns befriends bad-ass bikers, meth-fueled “old ladies,” gun fetishists, psycho-killer ex-cons, and even some of the “Filthy Few”–the elite of the Hells Angels who’ve committed extreme violence on behalf of their club. Eventually, at parties staged behind heavily armed security, he meets legendary club members such as Chuck Zito, Johnny Angel, and the godfather of all bikers, Ralph “Sonny” Barger. To blend in with them, he gets full-arm ink; to win their respect, he vows to prove himself a stone-cold killer.

Hardest of all is leading a double life, which has him torn between his devotion to his wife and children, and his pledge to become the first federal agent ever to be “fully patched” into the Angels’ near-impregnable ranks. His act is so convincing that he comes within a hairsbreadth of losing himself. Eventually, he realizes that just as he’s been infiltrating the Hells Angels, they’ve been infiltrating him. And just as they’re not all bad, he’s not all good.

Reminiscent of Donnie Brasco’s uncovering of the true Mafia, this is an eye-opening portrait of the world of bikers–the most in-depth since Hunter Thompson’s seminal work–one that fully describes the seductive lure criminal camaraderie has for men who would otherwise be powerless outsiders. Here is all the nihilism, hate, and intimidation, but also the freedom–and, yes, brotherhood–of the only truly American form of organized crime.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Editorial Reviews

One of the chief wonders of this book is that Jay Dobyns lived to write it. No Angel follows this still-young federal agent as he infiltrates a Hell's Angels motorcycle club; becomes a "full-patch" member; takes a bullet in the chest; rides high, wide, and fast in a biker posse; participates in a biker brawl; helps stage a faked assassination; and much, much more.

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From the Publisher
"A high-velocity trip into a frightening American underworld told in rapid-fire, hard-boiled prose." —-Evan Wright, author of the national bestseller Generation Kill

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No Angel 4 out of 5 based on 1 ratings. 210 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Oswald747 More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Star88 More than 1 year ago
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.
Shinn More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
SavageBS More than 1 year ago
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~
LinusesBlanket More than 1 year ago
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.
tam82669 More than 1 year ago
I couldn't put it down!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous 8 months ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Locked out there
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Here I am.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I nevah get border patrol. Fooos, ROO DAAAAAH! *explodes*
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was as good as I thought it would be!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great book
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ShyanneC More than 1 year ago
No Angel by Jay Dobyns 5 stars No Angel is the true story of undercover police officer, Jay Dobyns. He poses as a member of the world&rsquo;s most dangerous biker gang- the Hells Angels- for 21 months and successfully weasel&rsquo;s his way into the inner circles of the gang. He was not alone, however. He had 2 partners in this dangerous operation. The book starts off at the end of the story and, like most personal narratives, jumps back and forth from the past to the actual story in focus. I would say some major themes in this book are trust and danger. Dobyns tells the readers about his past and the events leading up to his decision to be an undercover officer. I absolutely believe everyone who has even a little bit of interest in undercover police work, the Hells Angels, or any other gang for that matter should read this book. It&rsquo;s intense, and will keep you on the edge of your seat. To be honest, I had a hard time putting the book down at all. I stayed up until all hours of the night reading and reading and reading. I liked how Dobyns left out nothing. It seemed like everything was there, every little gritty, personal, dirty detail. However, I disliked how it jumped around from his past to the operation and back again. For me, that made it a little bit hard to follow. As far as other recommendations go, if you liked this book then watch The Devil&rsquo;s Ride on A&amp;E. It&rsquo;s about the Laffing Devils biker gang. Rather than giving the legal side of gangs, it gives the actual members accounts on things that happen and it&rsquo;s basically a reality show without the script.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good book but a rat is rat. What comes around goes around.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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