by William Queen
260 pages, $24.95
Random House Publishing, copyright 2005
by Sev Pearman
What would you do if you were an undercover ATF agent, alone in a motel room, held at knifepoint by two biker gang officers who didn’t trust you and ordered you to do crank in front of them, right here and now? William Queen transports you into this motel room and the frightening world of an undercover agent in Under and Alone.
A decorated Vietnam Vet, author William Queen spent twenty years as a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms Special Agent. In 1998, he volunteered to go undercover and infiltrate the San Fernando, California chapter of Mongol Nation, an outlaw motorcycle gang (OMG) in order to gather intelligence.
The author poses as “Billy St. John,” a blue-collar Harley rider looking to belong. After passing the initial “hanger-on” phase, “Billy” was invited to become a “prospect.” In order to “patch-in,” or become a full member, prospects are at the beck-and-call of any club member. Prospects have to wash and park bikes, do errands and other menial tasks.
The Mongols scrutinized Queen and tested him repeatedly and frequently. Led by “Red Dog,” Queen was ordered to sell and do drugs, shuttle guns, drive get-away cars and steal motorcycles. The author delivers you right there, with a sparse, staccato writing style full of the paranoid and profane language of the outlaw biker. It is authentic, immediate and terrifying.
Queen admittedly fears Red Dog, who openly doubts his story and believes him to be a cop. One particularly harrowing moment occurs when Red Dog demands that “Billy” produce his high school yearbook to back up his story. “Billy” has many moments like these and the author successfully conveys his palpable terror. How would you talk your way out of a demand like that? William Queen, the agent, uses his wits to pass this test and survive.
As the Mongols came to trust “Billy,” Mr. Queen came to understand the brotherhood shared by club members. As “Billy,” he learns that despite their skewed priorities, OMG members share a deep and personal loyalty. Indeed, Mr. Queen, the author, struggles with some of the choices that “Billy”, the undercover agent, has to make. The lines of law and honor are further blurred by decisions made by his ATF superiors. Is there any real difference between the “good guys” and the “bad guys?
Under and Alone is the true story of one man’s belief in law and order and his unbelievable commitment and sacrifices to uphold it. I couldn’t put this down. Under and Alone rides righteously with one fist in the air on four out of four cylinders. Also available in paperback and audio book.
Verdict: John Q. Public – And you thought your job sucked…
Law Enforcement Officer – Intimate tale of sacrifice, ethics and loyalty.
One-percenter – “One day a real rain is gonna come…”
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