April 04, 2005 at 04:00 AM EDT

Under and Alone

Current Status
In Season
William Queen
Random House
Nonfiction, Memoir
We gave it a B+

William Queen, an under-cover ATF agent in L.A., posed for over two years as a ratty-bearded, foul-smelling biker named Billy St. John and infiltrated the Mongols, ”the most violent motorcycle gang in America, a tight-knit collective of crazies, unpredictable and unrepentant badasses.” He even got elected treasurer, and then vice president, of the San Fernando Valley Chapter! His account of the bust, the biggest in motorcycle-gang history, is more tightly written than most cop memoirs: It rips along like a Harley on the 405 at midnight. The Mongols are so three-dimensionally drawn that while it’s a little hard to believe Queen avoided ever having to snort coke or indulge in purer biker evil, it’s not so surprising to learn he sometimes loved his fellow Mongols like brothers.

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