Thursday 15 April 2021



Synopsis/blurb ...

On December 6, 1993, a drug dealer called Scrappy is shot and left for dead on the lawn outside her mother’s house in South Central Los Angeles. Augie, a heroin addict, witnesses the whole thing—before he steals all the drugs on her person, as well as the gun that was dropped at the scene. When Augie gets busted, he names local gang members Wizard and Dreamer the shooters.

But only one of them is guilty.

A search of Wizard and Dreamer’s premises uncovers the gun that was used in the shooting, and a warrant goes out for their arrest. They know it’s a frame-up, but the word from the gang is to keep their mouths shut and face the charges.

With these two off the streets and headed for jail, Dreamer’s friend Little, the unlikeliest of new gang members, is given one job: discover how the gun got moved, and why.

Played out in the streets, precincts, jails, and courtrooms of Los Angeles, Ryan Gattis's The System is the harrowing story of a crime—from moments before the bullets are fired, to the verdict and its violent aftershocks—told through the vivid chorus of those involved, guilty, the innocent, and everyone in between.

Short review - absolutely bloody brilliant. Pitch perfect.

Story, pace, characters, outcome, setting - place and time frame of the book, writing, presentation - alternating chapters from the perspectives of the main players - the accused, the witnesses, the defence, the prosecution. I do like books where the perspective shifts from one character to another.

An intriguing look at the justice system from the commission of a crime all the way through to the verdict and the aftermath. I was scared as the pronouncements came down and even afterwards I feared jeopardy towards one of the main characters. 

An intriguing look at gang life as well .... the codes, the rules, the boundaries, loyalties, hierarchy and expectations of members behaviour - even at the risk of great personal cost.

Absolutely loved it.                                                 

5 from 5

My first outing with Ryan Gattis, though definitely not my last. Some of his earlier books sit on the pile.

Read - March, 2021
Published - 2020
Page count - 411
Source - review copy from Net Galley
Format - Kindle


  1. I was thinking, Col, that it seemed like a really interesting look at the justice system, and then you mentioned it, too! And it sounds like quite a good look inside the workings of gangs, too. The characters sound well-developed, and I can see why they interested you.

    1. Definitely one of my best books this year so far.