Reviews for Riding with evil : taking down the notorious Pagan Motorcycle Gang

Kirkus
Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

The story of an agent of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives who went undercover to bust a disreputable motorcycle gang.In a book co-authored by former Boston Herald investigative journalist Wedge, Croke chronicles the risky years he spent infiltrating the notorious Pagan Motorcycle Club. In 2009, Croke embarked on an undercover mission with the group, posing as a merciless defender of the clubs upper echelon. No stranger to undercover workI had faked doing coke withMS-13 gangbangershe employed all of the manipulative, resourceful survival skills he knew to work his way into the Pagans favor. However, his cover became increasingly difficult to maintain, and the situation became life-threatening once he observed the clubs unpredictable inner machinations, which included extreme violence, rape, ubiquitous drugs, extortion, and murder. Though the authors braid Crokes personal history into the text and how his fascination with the many ways criminals grifted the system became his calling, his assignment with the Pagans remains the captivating centerpiece. Driven by a combination of justice and adrenaline, Croke became fully ensconced in the groups clandestine, nefarious world, operating inches away from mercurial memberse.g., Roadblock, Hogman, a behemoth of a man and a disgusting human; Hellboy, a former mixed martial arts fighter and big meth tweaker; and Cano, one of the only non-white members, whose rap sheet included drug and weapons trafficking, robberies, gambling violations, conspiracy, being a fugitive from justice, and several assaults. Nearing the investigations climax, the threat of exposure escalated and compromised the safety of his wife and children. The authors pack the brisk narrative with insider details and compelling action, creating a riveting hybrid of true-crime journalism and intensive memoir. In a revealing, highly personal conclusion, Croke writes about how he tried to put the daunting ordeal behind him, but the psychological fallout forced him to eschew motorcycle riding altogether: The bike came to symbolize danger and an outlaw lifestyle that kept me from those I loved most.A breathless, enthralling thrill ride. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.


Kirkus
Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

The story of an agent of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives who went undercover to bust a disreputable motorcycle gang. In a book co-authored by former Boston Herald investigative journalist Wedge, Croke chronicles the risky years he spent infiltrating the notorious Pagan Motorcycle Club. In 2009, Croke embarked on an undercover mission with the group, posing as a merciless defender of the club’s upper echelon. No stranger to undercover work—“I had faked doing coke with…MS-13 gangbangers”—he employed all of the manipulative, resourceful survival skills he knew to work his way into the Pagans’ favor. However, his cover became increasingly difficult to maintain, and the situation became life-threatening once he observed the club’s unpredictable inner machinations, which included extreme violence, rape, ubiquitous drugs, extortion, and murder. Though the authors braid Croke’s personal history into the text and how his fascination with “the many ways criminals grifted the system” became his “calling,” his assignment with the Pagans remains the captivating centerpiece. Driven by a combination of justice and adrenaline, Croke became fully ensconced in the group’s clandestine, nefarious world, operating inches away from mercurial members—e.g., Roadblock, Hogman, “a behemoth of a man” and “a disgusting human”; Hellboy, “a former mixed martial arts fighter and big meth tweaker”; and Cano, “one of the only non-white members,” whose rap sheet included “drug and weapons trafficking, robberies, gambling violations, conspiracy, being a fugitive from justice, and several assaults.” Nearing the investigation’s climax, the threat of exposure escalated and compromised the safety of his wife and children. The authors pack the brisk narrative with insider details and compelling action, creating a riveting hybrid of true-crime journalism and intensive memoir. In a revealing, highly personal conclusion, Croke writes about how he tried to put the daunting ordeal behind him, but the psychological fallout forced him to eschew motorcycle riding altogether: “The bike came to symbolize danger and an outlaw lifestyle that kept me from those I loved most.” A breathless, enthralling thrill ride. Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.


Publishers Weekly
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Croke, with the help of bestseller Wedge (The Last Days of John Lennon with James Patterson), debuts with a nail-biting account of how he became the first ATF agent to infiltrate the Pagans, a violent white supremacist motorcycle gang. For two years starting in 2009, Croke lived undercover in fear for his life, knowing the gang members would beat him to death if his cover was blown. In vivid detail, Croke recounts mass gatherings with as many as 5,000 Pagans, which were filled with guns, drugs, and sex workers. In addition, Croke witnessed and was involved in buying illegal guns and bombs and planning attacks against Hells Angels. He also had to deal with emotional problems back home with his wife and children, media focus on an old case of his, and the threat of a war breaking out between the Pagans and Hells Angels. Ultimately, he got out alive and was able to make a RICO case that put 20 Pagans behind bars after they were convicted of racketeering, murder conspiracy, assault, drugs and weapons possession, and witness tampering. What sets this above the pack is Croke’s attention to how hard it was to return to normal life after the case. Happily, despite the physical and mental challenges Croke faced, which included therapy for transitioning from deep undercover back to normal life, his career continued, his family remained intact, and his eldest daughter went on to become an ATF agent. This engrossing account about the realities of undercover work is must reading for true crime aficionados. Agent: Peter Steinberg, Foundry Media. (Mar.)

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