The System

Ryan Gattis. MCD, $28 (432p) ISBN 978-0-374-13031-2
On the night of Dec. 6, 1993, heroin addict Augie Clark, a key player in this ambitious crime novel set in L.A. from Gattis (Safe), witnesses his dealer, Scrappy , getting shot outside her mother’s house, and recognizes the shooter as gangbanger Wizard , but doesn’t know who the guy with Wizard is. Clark saves Scrappy’s life with some quick first aid, calls an ambulance—and pockets the gun used in the shooting left at the scene. The next day, Clark’s parole officer finds the gun during a routine check on Clark, and blackmails him to finger Wizard and Wizard’s usual accomplice, Dreamer , who has no felony record. The long, torturous road to trial offers a devastating portrait of the criminal network operating from jails, and shows how a person like Dreamer, the book’s only sympathetic character, has little hope of justice. At times, this reads like a legal thriller, but with a lot more grit and sharper than usual characterization. Gattis expands the story dramatically through multiple first-person monologues from those on both sides of the criminal justice system. Too often, though, the monologues self-consciously strive for profundity in hard-to-swallow ways. Still, this is a story with great resonance for today. Agent: Simon Lipskar, Writers House. (Dec.)
Reviewed on : 09/03/2020
Release date: 07/14/2020
Genre: Mystery/Thriller
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