cover image DEAD IN 5 HEARTBEATS


Sonny Barger, with Keith and Kent Zimmerman. . Morrow, $24.95 (307pp) ISBN 978-0-06-053251-2

Legendary Hell's Angel Barger (Hell's Angel; Ridin' High, Livin' Free) teams once again with co-authors Keith and Kent Zimmerman on this debut novel of motorcycles and murder. Patch Kinkade, ex-president of the Oakland, Calif., chapter of the Infidelz motorcycle club, the toughest MC in the West, has relocated to Arizona in the wake of a busted marriage. But he finds that ties to home and past are not easily severed. The Infidelz have a serious dust-up in a bar with three other clubs—the 2Wheelers, Soul Sacrifice and the Gun Runners ("Fists flew everywhere. Broken ribs. Broken arms. Broken bottles. Broken teeth. Broken pride)"—and after it's over, a new member of the Infidelz lies dead in the parking lot, his murder seemingly unrelated to the fight inside. Ahab, the president of the Oakland chapter, hunts down Patch and asks him to investigate. Soon enough, the reluctant Patch is back in Oakland, facing renegade FBI agents and unexpected treachery and deceit. The authors have an un-ironic, breezy style: "Patch wore no businessman's haircut. The wind was his stylist." Despite colorful nicknames (girls named Blondie and LiLac, dudes called Nine Inch, 12-12 and Eight Ball), thin characterization leads to reader confusion, and degenerate behavior makes it difficult to cheer for the novel's putative good guys. The mystery falls flat, but there's plenty of sex, violence and tricked-out bikes in this "gasoline and adrenaline" ride. Barger's fans should love it. (Oct.)

Forecast:Aggressive marketing, including a coast-to coast motorcycle rally tie-in tour, coupled with the indefatigable Barger's extensive signing schedule, will mobilize the faithful and make this a seller.