Reviewed by Tori
Favorite Quote: “I’ve been riding a hell wave, and there was no breaking free. Nothing to do but let the waters take me.“
The high-octane, no-holds-barred, true story of a bad guy turned good who infiltrated one of the most violent outlaw motorcycle gangs in history to take them down.
It’s the morning of March 9, 2006, hours before one of the largest motorcycle gang busts in United States history, and George Rowe can’t sleep. He keeps thinking about the past three years he spent as an informant for the ATF, working undercover with the Vagos, one of the most dangerous biker gangs in the country. His fiancée, a struggling heroin addict carrying their unborn child, is asleep next to him. She’s got no idea who he really is, what he’s done, or what’s about to happen. How in the hell, Rowe wonders, did it go so far and get so deep? (Goodreads)
From the current hit HBO show, Sons Of Anarchy, to the motorcycles gang romances currently being penned by such authors as Kristen Ashley, Joanna Wylde, and Jaci Burton- MCs (motorcycle clubs) are a popular subject matter that has opened up a whole new hero for romancelandia to love. The gruff, alpha male who lives free and takes what he wants, regardless of the consequences. I won’t even bother trying to convince you I haven’t jumped on this train and rode it hard. Something about the balance of love and violence is addictive and I would be hard pressed to deny it. However, in real life, MC gangs aren’t like this. The men aren’t anti heroes with a secret yen to find their one true love (old lady) and ride off in the sunset with her. The Hell’s Angels, The Vagos, The Warlocks, etc…are criminals. Gun running, prostitution, and extortion are just a few of the crimes these gangs are involved in.
When I received Gods Of Mischief for review, I was interested in getting a first hand look into the reality of these men, their lives, and the clubs they swear allegiance to. George Rowe, our narrator, takes the glamour and romance out of the MC gang life and shows us the rotten core that festers inside of it. Told from his point of view, we get a laid back, folk tale style story that tells us an interesting and engaging story of a man and his three year deep undercover effort to bring down a vicious motorcycle gang.
“The road taken by the 1% was a bitch to travel…better to steer clear.”
Our journey starts with George at the end of the road, waiting for the ATF to start their take down and wondering how on earth he is going to explain it all to his pregnant drug addict fiancée. The story then switches to the past as George tells us of his life up to this point, addressing his turbulent and violent childhood and adult years with no apology. No excuses. He is what he is. An addictive personality whose life is a study in drugs, violence, and bad choices.
“Every saint has a past and every sinner has a future.”
Yet, there is a vein of humor that runs through this story. George is a good natured man. He has a self deprecation to his thoughts and reminiscing, often poking fun at his mistakes and questionable choices.
“I could finally take my girlfriend on some of the club runs. Jenna was actually happy with the idea of spending quality time with her suspiciously gay boyfriend.”
He collects strays and attempts to help them, even though he himself is a hot mess. He struggles with his conscience on many occasions, knowing what he is doing is wrong, yet doing whatever is necessary to stay on the path he chose. I grew to like George despite his many, many flaws. Even after finishing his story, I hesitate to call George Rowe a hero, and I think he would too. He, like the rest of the town, turned a blind eye to many of the misdeeds of the Vagos motorcycle gang, allowing them the almost impenetrable hold they had on the town. It is only when a friend disappears does George pick his head up, look around, and truly acknowledge the evil that lives around him. I would however commend his courage and bravery. It takes a lot to rise above the restraints you have put upon yourself and fight for what’s right. Especially knowing that once he was done, his life as George Rowe was essentially over.
“Man, what the fuck happened?”
The heart of the story is essentially a timeline of his undercover work-from his inclusion into the Vagas Motorcycle Club and becoming a full member to the various activities he and the club members engaged in with personal commentary added. It reads fast and has a hypnotic easy rider-70’s vibe to it even though this takes place only 6-7 years ago. It’s very easy to get lost in George’s head and the story. While we understand that he is working to take them down, you can sense the struggle he has with this assignment. These are men he has lived with, worked with, and fought with. They accepted him into their family and he has made friends with some of them. He is committing the ultimate betrayal and it’s not an easy burden for him to bear. I liked that he struggled with it. That he didn’t place himself on a pedestal and whitewash his own involvement.
There were a few problems. The editing and format were horrible with repeating paragraphs and jumping sentences. Hopefully, the publisher will clean up the copies. The story drags at times as we wait for the action to start and I admit to getting antsy and wanting to jump ahead. There are also some repetitive scenes where George drifts back and forth between the present and the past or vents his dislike of certain members.
The ending was hard, fast and heartbreaking when everything comes together and George realizes what will have to happen now. Also, there is a small epilogue that makes you question everything George did and if it was all worth it. Regardless, the story is an adventure for true crime and MC buffs; providing an honest look at a man and what he was willing to do to clean up his town and redeem himself in the process.
Overall Rating: C+