Book Review: No Angel by Jay Dobyns and Nils Johnson-Shelton

As I said before, being a powerful and influential member of the Law Enforcement Humor media, I was sent a copy of the book No Angel: My Harrowing Undercover Journey to the Inner Circle of the Hells Angels. I would like to thank Alisha Burns, Digital Marketing Assistant Manager with The Crown Publishing Group, for giving me the opportunity to review this book. This was an awesome book.

First off, a few heads ups. If you don’t like graphic language or violence, this is not the book for you. Also, No Angel is not about what a great guy Jay Dobyns is. Neither is it about what no good lowlifes bikers are. To put it simply: No Angel is an emotional tale of good versus evil told in a no holds barred style. It’s kind of like Star Wars, but without wookies, space ships, or lightsabers.

No Angel tells the story of ATF Special Agent Jay “Bird” Dobyns and his undercover journey into the world of Arizona outlaw motorcycle clubs, mainly the infamous Hells Angels. The writing is very vivid. You can almost taste the dust on Dobyns’ runs through the desert.

Dobyns spent almost two years posing as an outlaw biker, gaining the trust of (and evidence against) the Hells Angels shot-callers in Arizona. His experience brings the reader a gritty view of the criminal underbelly of the Hells Angles, and of the dark side of the human existence. Dobyns battles bikers, fear, temptation, and his made-up criminal personna, Bird, to bring some really nasty individuals to justice. But at what cost?

If all that isn’t enough to sell you on the book, the chapter titles are some of the best I’ve ever seen. With chapter titles like Look lady, it’s not like I don’t give a fuck what you’re saying, but I don’t give a fuck what you’re saying, and Jesus hates a pussy, I was hooked from the moment I opened the cover.

You can get No Angel at Amazon.com, Barns & Noble.com, and Borders.com. You can find out more about Jay Dobyns at his website.

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16 Responses to “Book Review: No Angel by Jay Dobyns and Nils Johnson-Shelton”

  1. This sounds like something I should be reading.

  2. tazer proof Says:

    I guess I’ll be the only fool in the country who dont end up with a book about ME. Just about anybody with about five seconds of fame writes one nowadays. Cant wait to hear from the Octo mom or whatever.

  3. Dude, what are you? A Hells Angel? Is Sonny Barger your favorite uncle or something? The dude wrote a good book. You’re comparing a guy who spent two years undercover inside the Hells Angels with Octomom. WTF?

  4. tazer proof Says:

    Well You brought up Barger not me He’s wrote alot of books apperently.
    Perhaps a review of one of those too.
    http://sonnybarger.com/index3.html

    I dont equate my jaded view of contemporary autobiographical Lit.
    with membership in a 1% club. Having done all the knob work I intend to do in the Marine Corps and the Army. I just dont find anything fullfilling in washing/waxing/guarding other peoples bikes for two years just to prove what a great standup guy I am, whether I’m posin like Dobyns or for real.

    I just question why people write books about themselves. Whats the motivation. I feel if you are that extraordinary somebody else will write about you. One need not worry about their place in history. Be charitable and write about somebody or something bigger and better than yourself.
    Leon Uris for example.

  5. tazer proof Says:

    Comparing contemporary Autobioghrapical lit in general, Sorry if that makes me a bad guy in your mind. Dont think he ever actually patched out. which at least in the Nat Geo TV show is what they were most concerned about. Didnt really seem to care much about gathering evidence in pursuit of a case.

  6. Wanted to email a question to you, but didn’t see an email addy anywhere. Is it on the site and I’m just missing it?

    Thanks.

    Daisy

  7. TP: How can you compare this book to any other when you haven’t read it. You’re damning the book based on the case, or some preconceived notion of the character of the author. Like I said in the review, it’s not about what a great guy Jay Dobyns is, or about how good the case was. It’s about him, and it’s a good book regardless of the merits of the case. If you had read the book, and said, “Hey, I read that book and thought it sucked!” Then we could have an honest discussion on whether or not the book was any good. As it stands, you’re damning the book when you haven’t read it, and acting like I’m some kind of asshole because I thought it was a good book.

    Sorry, your other comment got caught by the spam filter, I guess the link or whatever. Anyhoo, If Mr. Barger’s publisher asks me to review his book, I would, and I would give it a fair shake based solely on the merits of the book, just like I did with this one. As to why people write books about themselves, why does it matter? If it gets published, and people buy it, then more power to them. Hey, our President’s sole claim to fame is that he wrote two books about himself. I don’t care who writes books about what. I do have a problem with people that watch reality TV though. If you’re looking for a scourge on society to be pissed at, what better target than the Kardashians.

    Besides, do you really think it matters what I think of the book? I got a free book because I’m high on the front page of Google search results for law enforcement related keywords. I don’t yet take myself so seriously that I think more than one or two people might buy this book on my recommendation. It’s not like I’m getting paid to review books.

    Daisy: My e-mail is youshouldbetasered [at] gmail [dot] com

  8. tazer proof Says:

    Hi Jump out I havnt “condemned” the book it is could be great if I read it. But it’s reputed as non-fiction and me being leary of anyone who writes a book about themselves anyway, would question the various authors on their moral/ethical behaviour. Then I can make a subjective view on the content.

    Looking at all his problems right now with the ATF, his former employer. I’d say the jury is still out in my case. Lets see what all that turns into.

    Thanks for your patience.

  9. tazer proof Says:

    As more time came available;

    “Hey, our President’s sole claim to fame is that he wrote two books about himself.”

    Yeah and I didnt spend any money on his books either. But to give him credit he was a community rabble rouser also. I’d read “Birds” books for free but not Obambas. Solely based on your review. Now Ive paid for “One shot One kill” By Carlos Hathcock

    “Besides, do you really think it matters what I think of the book?”

    Well yes, to me anyway. Or I wouldnt be here. I’d be inflicting my warped views on somebody else.

  10. Bah, I enjoy your warped views, as I enjoy the views of all my readers…except for the ones that suck. That’s none of you who are currently reading, btw, the sucky ones know who they are.

    And thanks for giving a crap about my two cents.

  11. Mr.Randy Says:

    In the idea of riding and living among the angels it is a good story. However some parts of the book raised some questions,or seemed far fetched. Perhaps leaving this reader wondering, if I noticed that why wouldn’t the Hells Angels? A couple of examples would be, look at the picture of the solo vest. Why is it cm as opposed to the traditional mc? Is that a south of the border thing? Perhaps I read to fast and missed the explanation! If your “cut” is everything this would be mocked,and laughed at!! Also there is the part where bird has to prove to bad bob he is legit. They have no idea why the angels want to talk to them other than the info they got from their team. Yet when bird meets bob he has video tapes and news articles to prove the fact they are legit! Bob wasn’t wondering how the hell he knew what this was all about? Once again perhaps I read to fast or am confused.
    Then the whole hydroxycut,redbull shit left you thinking he was living on the edge of a teenage girl poppin no-doz. Give me a break. What about showin up wearing sandals? Some more hard to believe stuff.
    All said and done there was no big outcome of justice served.There are way better books on this subject out there.Any way you look at it, the Hells Angels are forever,and I feel this comes off as another documented failure to try to take down something that will always be. I was left thinking it was meant to make readers think the Hells Angels were a bunch of uneducated rednecks. Probally not a good idea,but read it and interpret your own way.

  12. See, you and I got very different things from our respective reads. I think the point the point of the book was never about Dobyns’ battle with the Angels, but rather his battle with himself. Operation Black Biscuit was just a vehicle to convey the message. To me, it seemed as if he wanted to give a realistic depiction of OMCs and of himself, not defense or explanation of the casework. Obviously parts of the book were dramatized, like any other “true story”. As far as your issue with the Solos cut, I would imagine since the club is based in Mexico, and has a spanish name the the adjective and noun would be reversed. Furthermore, I don’t expect to get the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth from a book written by a biased author. It’s human nature to use language that casts the storyteller in the best light possible. Again, I thought it was a good book, and worth reading.

  13. tazer proof Says:

    Got me Mr Randy I know you dont fly the Cube (MC) patch without the OK from the dominate club in the AO so maybe they was being polite with the CM thing. (or the pic was reversed)
    Somethin else that had me wonder too. Bird played football in AZ for Uof A . He’d a been pretty well known. You’d think that He’d been better off practicing secret agent stuff anywhere but AZ. with the chance of an old fan poppin in right in the middle of gansta meet sayin “Mr Dobyns would you autograph my football please?” maybe its that dumbing down society thing Ive heard about. Straights are dumber, Crooks are dumber so everyone still on an equal footing.

  14. Mr.Randy Says:

    Yeah, if you look at it from the self battle angle,I can see that. Still funny how he has a party and him and JJ are crankin Nelly and gettin jiggy with it and the Angels show up to party. Good stuff. So after further analization it’s a pretty good book from many angles. Still find alot of humor though.Not a single fight or beat down? New millenium bikers just send you a virus on your laptop,wait,they text you bad things,virtual fighter,smack you around on face book!! Have a good one,I really do see your point of view though.

  15. Out of Bounds Says:

    I think you all got it and missed it at the same time. Some the the stuff considered outrageous by the reader may have been just that. This guy enjoyed taunting. Sandals? Is that really so outrageous and unbelievable? What is more shocking to me is that all the Angels seem to care to speak to is whether Bird did or did not get in the club. No mention of why murders and drug dealers keep their patches when convicted of felonies. I understand the loyalty and brotherhood thing but they publicly play themselves off as misunderstood motorcycle enthusiasts. Read Barger’s book as Jump Out suggests. Read Zito’s. Two of the biggest self-glamourization stories in history. At least Dobyns discussed his flaws, mistakes and failures. He says the case failed, he is not trying to hided that. He says he lost is focus and sought a patch over evidence. You’re not pointing out anything he didn’t already take responsibiblity for. The book was great and the review on this site was great. The comments are clear and and well stated but just seem to be made in haste.

  16. Glad to see you posting again. I check everyday for new material, hoping to learn something new.

    I do have questions I hope you might be able to answer: How difficult is it for you to turn off your police work when your done your shift and you go home to your family? Do you think about things that happened during your day, or do you immediately shut everything out and think about your family only? Do you discuss things that happened with your wife or do you feel she’s better off not knowing because of the dangers you face on a daily basis?

    Sorry for the questions. Just curious.

    Thanks much, and please stay safe out there.

    Daisy (aka Kate)

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