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An electrifying, multi-voiced thriller tackling our criminal justice system, from the writer Michael Connelly has called “one of our most gifted novelists.” 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 An electrifying, multi-voiced thriller tackling our criminal justice system, from the writer Michael Connelly has called “one of our most gifted novelists.” 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.


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An electrifying, multi-voiced thriller tackling our criminal justice system, from the writer Michael Connelly has called “one of our most gifted novelists.” 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 An electrifying, multi-voiced thriller tackling our criminal justice system, from the writer Michael Connelly has called “one of our most gifted novelists.” 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.

30 review for The System

  1. 5 out of 5

    Fran

    "This is the story of one...crime-those accused of it, those who witnessed it, the lawyers who prosecuted and defended it, and those left behind on the outside". "...the system is the system. It always gobbles up the ones with the lowest distance to fall". It started with Augustine Clark aka Augie on December 6, 1993 in South Central Los Angeles. "These earthquakes I got are major...I need something bad. So bad I'll do whatever has to be done for it". He starts tugging on the wooden shutters of Sc "This is the story of one...crime-those accused of it, those who witnessed it, the lawyers who prosecuted and defended it, and those left behind on the outside". "...the system is the system. It always gobbles up the ones with the lowest distance to fall". It started with Augustine Clark aka Augie on December 6, 1993 in South Central Los Angeles. "These earthquakes I got are major...I need something bad. So bad I'll do whatever has to be done for it". He starts tugging on the wooden shutters of Scrappy's mother's house. Drug dealer Scrappy confronts Augie...deal done. Augie starts to slink away...but...Scrappy has been "green lighted from above" and shots ring out. Augie returns, applies first aid, and tells Scrappy's mother to send for an ambulance. Meanwhile, Augie pockets ten baggies stored on Scrappy's person and a weapon dropped at the scene. "I got the gun in my hand. What can I sell it for if I clean it up?" Not so fast, Augie! Parole Agent Phillip Petrillo checks Augie's Parole Field File before making a home visit. Petrillo has reason to believe Augie is "using" and searches the premises finding a gun hidden behind a baseboard. To avoid additional jail time, Augie suggests, "...what if I knew something?" Petrillo retorts, "Get on the right side of the system, Augie. I'm your one shot". Augie fingers two suspects, Wizard as shooter, and an second unknown assailant. Petrillo presses. "If Wizard was one, who was the other guy at the shooting? Dreamer. Dreamer...C'mon, Augie, Say it...whether he was there or not last night doesn't matter""....there could even be something for me to take out of it...", thinks Petrillo. Here is how it goes down. Wizard and Dreamer are arrested and charged with "willful, deliberate and premeditated...conspiracy...to murder Lucrecia Lucero [aka Scrappy from] ...a rival street gang. Who are these suspects? Omar Tavira aka Wizard, twenty two years old, traveled with a pad...to write words...perhaps "Mister Gangster-Trying-To-Be a Rapper". "Loyalty is the best part of anybody". "When we wind up at County Jail, it's a whole new education". Jacob Safulu aka Dreamer is seventeen years old. He has "no tattoos...hasn't even been arrested yet". "I don't want to go to jail for something I didn't do...some shit Wizard did and it's on me". It would seem that Dreamer and Wizard's fates are intertwined. The agendas of the prosecution and defense will soon be revealed. "The System" by Ryan Gattis is a legal thriller that masterfully voices a crime using the narratives of Wizard and Dreamer, Scrappy, parole officers, detectives, and lawyers for the defense and prosecution. There are those who will consider it to be a badge of honor to become gangsters. Others, entrenched in the system, can't find a way out. "I've got to kill my feelings...I know I can't show weakness...Survive. No matter what"...Nothing I could say gets me out of here. It only gets me deeper". The reader views a snapshot of the criminal justice system. We witness a police procedural that examines an urban crime. Will justice be served? Highly recommended. Thank you Farrar, Straus and Giroux/MCD and Net Galley for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Lou

    The System is a dark, gritty and sinister legal thriller all about the consequences and implications of the United States criminal justice system. Set against the backdrop of Lynwood in South Central Los Angeles, around 19 months after the LA/Rodney King Riots, Gattis sets about exploring both the different stages of the system as it progresses and also the array of distinct entities involved in order to keep the wheel of justice turning. It's December 6, 1993, and heroin addict Augie Clark, wit The System is a dark, gritty and sinister legal thriller all about the consequences and implications of the United States criminal justice system. Set against the backdrop of Lynwood in South Central Los Angeles, around 19 months after the LA/Rodney King Riots, Gattis sets about exploring both the different stages of the system as it progresses and also the array of distinct entities involved in order to keep the wheel of justice turning. It's December 6, 1993, and heroin addict Augie Clark, witnesses his dealer, Scrappy, getting shot outside her mother’s house, and recognises 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. Following the aftermath of the crime for all involved, those accused of it, those who witnessed it, the law enforcement who investigated it, the lawyers who prosecuted and defended it, and those left behind on the outside, we get a multifaceted look into the cogs in motion through immersive multiple first-person monologues. Everyone has a well-defined role to play in this legal symphony. This is a fascinating and refreshingly original method of illustrating both what works and what doesn't regarding the U.S. criminal justice system, and by utilising an engaging fictional murder to depict the wide-ranging positives and negatives that come from such a system, we get to view exactly how the complex, intertwined sections of this system play out. Discussed in a compassionate, moving and intricately informative fashion, this richly woven and extensively researched novel becomes ever more thought-provoking as it progresses and paints a compelling portrait of the criminal networks that often operate from within prisons. An authentic, intelligent and superbly written piece of social commentary on a system consisting of many moving parts and inevitable fundamental flaws that once noticed can be “fixed”, at least until the next one makes an appearance, The System highlights that our legal system(s), and this is true of them all across the world, despite having developed and evolved over centuries, are still very much a work in progress and must adapt to fit the changing times. All in all, a scintillating, dramatic courtroom drama but at the same time so much more than that — it's questioning, full of sharp observation, profound social criticism and razor-sharp characterisation — a resonant and relevant page-turner. Highly recommended.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Roman Clodia

    If you loved Gattis' All Involved then this is a must-read as I'd say it's even better, perhaps because it has a cleaner narrative arc and more story-telling momentum. The format is essentially similar: a revolving series of 1st person narratives that offer up a 360-degree view of a gang crime and its aftermath in LA. Gattis' compassion and understanding is well to the fore here as well as, I would assume, deep research. The characters in the gangs are youthful in the extreme, mere teenagers, bro If you loved Gattis' All Involved then this is a must-read as I'd say it's even better, perhaps because it has a cleaner narrative arc and more story-telling momentum. The format is essentially similar: a revolving series of 1st person narratives that offer up a 360-degree view of a gang crime and its aftermath in LA. Gattis' compassion and understanding is well to the fore here as well as, I would assume, deep research. The characters in the gangs are youthful in the extreme, mere teenagers, brought up in harsh circumstances, and it's not hard to see how gangs might become a quasi-family. All the same, this also highlights choice and options: the fates of Dreamer and Wizard could have been the same but are not. My one small qualm is about the character of Petrillo, a parole officer - without giving away spoilers, I can see what role he plays in the overarching plot but it seems to be tied in in a rather soap-y way. That said, I enjoyed reading his narratives, condemning himself through his own words as a disaffected white man blaming 'feminazis', Latinos, African-Americans, Eastern Europeans and pretty much everyone else for his woes (despite, ironically, his own Italian immigrant heritage). The structure keeps this pacy with a quick-switch feel similar to TV series. Emotive, compelling, immersive and insightful - a title to watch this summer. Many thanks to Picador for an ARC via NetGalley

  4. 5 out of 5

    Elaine

    This was our audiobook for the annual Christmas road trip. The System is a gritty crime thriller about LA street gangs and corrupt cops. The writing makes you feel like you're right there in the thick of it all. Wizard is a high ranking banger, and when word comes down to take out a rival dealer named Scrappy, he loads up with a driver and does the deed. Scrappy survives and she fingers Wizard as the shooter, but isn't sure who drove the car. Officer Petrillo has the hots for Wizard's cousin, Ang This was our audiobook for the annual Christmas road trip. The System is a gritty crime thriller about LA street gangs and corrupt cops. The writing makes you feel like you're right there in the thick of it all. Wizard is a high ranking banger, and when word comes down to take out a rival dealer named Scrappy, he loads up with a driver and does the deed. Scrappy survives and she fingers Wizard as the shooter, but isn't sure who drove the car. Officer Petrillo has the hots for Wizard's cousin, Angela, but she's already mixed up with Dreamer, an entry-level gang member. If Petrillo can get Dreamer out of the way, his path to Angela will be clear. All he needs is for Dreamer to have been the driver during the shooting... I thought this was good, and Gattis did a good job of showing how easy it is to fall into crime and why people do it. Some of it's familial, some is coercion, but some of it is because it gives a sense power to people who would otherwise have none. The same can be said about police corruption. It was interesting to compare the two intersecting-yet-parallel storylines. I recommend this for those who like in-your-face crime novels, but I say pass on the audiobook. All the narrators sound like they're reading, and the female narrators sound like little kids.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Eric

    The toughest part about reviewing novels like The System by Ryan Gattis, is doing justice to the writing and story. This novel really is more than just a “crime” or “thriller” novel. It’s a novel of destruction, growth, and redemption. The System is a gritty, urban crime novel focusing on those encountering “the system,” and of those practicing within “the system.” As Gattis describes, the machination of “the system” consists of the three prongs of government when it comes to law and law-breaking The toughest part about reviewing novels like The System by Ryan Gattis, is doing justice to the writing and story. This novel really is more than just a “crime” or “thriller” novel. It’s a novel of destruction, growth, and redemption. The System is a gritty, urban crime novel focusing on those encountering “the system,” and of those practicing within “the system.” As Gattis describes, the machination of “the system” consists of the three prongs of government when it comes to law and law-breaking: law enforcement, the courts, and corrections. The main focus of the novel is on Jacob “Dreamer” Safula and Omar “Wizard” Tavira. Wizard is a hardcore mover and shaker in the gang world, while Dreamer is more or less tied to the gang subculture because of his friendship with Wizard and geographic upbringing. The novel opens with Angela Alvarez, the girlfriend of Dreamer, telling him their relationship has reached the end of the road and it’s time for him to move out of her home. Wizard, the cousin to Angela Alvarez, and best friend of Dreamer, also lives with Alvarez and while the couple is ending their relationship, some distance away, Wizard happens to be shooting a female drug dealer nicknamed Scrappy. Soon, because of malevolent forces beyond the control of Dreamer and regardless of being innocent of the shooting, both he and Wizard are arrested and charged with the crime and find themselves facing possible life prison terms. In alternating chronological chapters told from the perspective of different characters within the novel, the story continues to unfold as Dreamer and Wizard move through the bowels of the “the system.” The novel further details the toll this process exacts from all those involved when pulled into its crushing vortex, where procedure is more important than truth and where results often end with negative, unrelenting repercussions, often contrary to guilt or innocence. Those fond of writers like George Pelecanos, Richard Price, and Dennis Lehane should enjoy the writing of Ryan Gattis and it will be quite a surprise if The System does not start appearing on “best of” end of the year lists in crime fiction. Readers are also encouraged to read Gattis’ prior novel All Involved. NetGalley provided an advanced reader copy of this novel with the promise of an unbiased and fair review.  This review was originally published at MysteryandSuspense.com

  6. 5 out of 5

    Randal White

    Wow! I have had the good fortune to read several great books so far this year, and this one goes right to the top of the list of most enjoyed. I actually got into trouble with the wife, because I would not put it down and go to bed. It was that mesmerizing. The book is set in Los Angeles in 1993, after the Rodney King riots. The plot follows an attempted murder of a young gangster drug dealer, and of the two men arrested for the crime. It uses multiple voices, that of the person shot, of the two Wow! I have had the good fortune to read several great books so far this year, and this one goes right to the top of the list of most enjoyed. I actually got into trouble with the wife, because I would not put it down and go to bed. It was that mesmerizing. The book is set in Los Angeles in 1993, after the Rodney King riots. The plot follows an attempted murder of a young gangster drug dealer, and of the two men arrested for the crime. It uses multiple voices, that of the person shot, of the two arrested men, of parole agents, detectives, District Attorneys, Public Defenders, and other gang (or wanna-be's) members. I think there are about a dozen different characters. The story is excellent. Entirely believable. Riveting. The confusion of the crime scene, the motives of some of the law enforcement, the political maneuverings to get ahead in careers (and in gang reputations), the jail scenes, the prison scenes, the courtroom scenes, descriptions of the gang (I think it's the Mexican Mafia). All were spot-on! The author expertly uses the multiple characters voices to make you feel like you are there. I spent seven years as a Deputy Sheriff, then another 21 years in the Federal Bureau of Prisons (in various positions). I can vouch for the author's descriptions. He really hits the nail on the head! All in all, this is an incredible book. After finishing the book (and taking a day to catch my breath), I immediately ordered some more of his books. I think I have a new favorite author to follow. Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with an Advance Reading Copy of this book. Highly, highly recommend!

  7. 5 out of 5

    Sid Nuncius

    I’ve had two good goes at The System now, but I’m afraid I can’t get on with it and have bailed out. I’m not sure quite why I’m struggling with it; I liked All Involved and this is in a similar style with closely related content and its examination of the US justice machine is important and timely. This time, though, I found the multiple points of view too fragmented to form a coherent narrative and some of the characters, like the bigoted, self-regarding, manipulative parole officer, rather over I’ve had two good goes at The System now, but I’m afraid I can’t get on with it and have bailed out. I’m not sure quite why I’m struggling with it; I liked All Involved and this is in a similar style with closely related content and its examination of the US justice machine is important and timely. This time, though, I found the multiple points of view too fragmented to form a coherent narrative and some of the characters, like the bigoted, self-regarding, manipulative parole officer, rather overblown and verging on caricature. Others have enjoyed this and I can see that it has merit, but it just didn’t engage me in the end and I won’t be going back to it. (My thanks to Picador for an ARC via NetGalley.)

  8. 4 out of 5

    Mark

    A thought-provoking and frightening lens on LA gang culture, The System sees Ryan Gattis return to the subject matter of his excellent novel All Involved. Whilst All Involved took place during the mayhem* of the LA riots, The System occurs several months after the riots. The focus is on the gang-ordered shooting of a drug dealer. Following this incident, we are walked through the 'system' - who takes the rap, how the authorities try to get the outcome they want, how personal ambition or lust can A thought-provoking and frightening lens on LA gang culture, The System sees Ryan Gattis return to the subject matter of his excellent novel All Involved. Whilst All Involved took place during the mayhem* of the LA riots, The System occurs several months after the riots. The focus is on the gang-ordered shooting of a drug dealer. Following this incident, we are walked through the 'system' - who takes the rap, how the authorities try to get the outcome they want, how personal ambition or lust can affect the lives of those involved. The book is obviously researched really well and it's fascinating but depressing to see just how broken this system is. So why only 3 stars? Well, I found the book to be interesting but it never quite gripped me in the way All Involved did. I think I needed a little more on some of the key characters like Dreamer, Wizard and Dulce - I never quite felt like I knew them well enough or was fully invested in their stories. I think in part, the genre just isn't my favourite and I know there will be a lot of readers who will love this one - it's well written, gritty and perfect for those who like urban crime, police procedural or The Wire. *As an aside, I learned from this book that 'Mayhem' is actually a crime in the US. :-)

  9. 5 out of 5

    Bookreporter.com Mystery & Thriller

    Our story opens on the streets of LA in 1993. They weren’t any nicer back then than now, and we’re not in the good part of town. Gangs rule their turf, and that turf is sacred to them. The penalties for crossing the lines are brutal. So when the “green light” goes out for Scrappy, a drug dealer, she knows she screwed up. Shots ring out in the night, and Scrappy falls, left for dead. Wizard and Dreamer are fingered for the hit. But Dreamer couldn’t have done it. He has an alibi: his girlfriend, A Our story opens on the streets of LA in 1993. They weren’t any nicer back then than now, and we’re not in the good part of town. Gangs rule their turf, and that turf is sacred to them. The penalties for crossing the lines are brutal. So when the “green light” goes out for Scrappy, a drug dealer, she knows she screwed up. Shots ring out in the night, and Scrappy falls, left for dead. Wizard and Dreamer are fingered for the hit. But Dreamer couldn’t have done it. He has an alibi: his girlfriend, Angela. She was breaking up with him at the very time Scrappy was shot. Wizard also knows Dreamer didn’t do it, but the word is out: Just face the charges like a man. The gun somehow ended up in a dresser shared by Dreamer and Angela. But she kicked him out, and he never went back. So how did it get there? There’s an eyewitness. A sketchy little guy named Augie. He says he saw the shooting, and the prosecutor likes his story. The problem is, Augie is a user, and he has a troubled relationship with the truth. Give him a reason to change his story, and it could easily happen. Besides, the streets are very dangerous, and Augie doesn’t have much courage, but he does have a gnawing habit. Next, we go inside the prison with Wizard and Dreamer. Wizard has been there before, despite his young age. But this is all new to Dreamer. Don’t worry, Wizard has his back. At least for a while. Things happen, though, and soon Wizard is swept off to another facility, leaving his homey on his own. Dreamer’s rage grows, knowing he shouldn’t be there. He’s not part of a gang, and he didn’t do what they’ve accused him of. He could end up stuck inside for years. His attorney pleads with him to separate his case from Wizard’s, but Dreamer has his instructions. He can’t; he just can’t. As much as the lawyer tries to understand, he doesn’t. No one does who hasn’t lived inside. He can only do his best for his client and hope it is enough. Meanwhile, on the outside, an up-and-comer dubbed Little, who’s known for his smarts, is tasked with finding out how the gun got inside Dreamer’s dresser. Little wants to prove himself and help his friend, and he knows ways to get information that most street people wouldn’t use. Getting results and getting them to the lawyer can be tricky, and maybe a touch unethical if not downright illegal, but it’s a chance the players are willing to take. The system almost forces it. Finally, we watch the trial play out, from who wants who on the jury to the edgy tricks each side pulls, to the daily drama of the witness testimony, a few courtroom surprises and the cumulative effect on the outcome. There are winners and losers. For some, better luck next time. These streets have their own set of rules, and they aren’t any rules you or I would ever understand. The people living on these streets do things the way they do in order to make it day to day. Sure, some of it is for ego, power and show, but for Dreamer, it’s survival. The cops, parole officers, prosecutors and defense attorneys all see how it works, and although in no way do they condone it, at least they recognize that it’s a protective shell around the street existence. THE SYSTEM presents a story with incredibly real characters; while it’s mostly tough to sympathize with them, sometimes it's also easy to do so. Author Ryan Gattis shows readers a whole alien world right in the midst of Los Angeles, and it’s eye-opening. It’s authentic. It’s frightening. This book will shake you up. Reviewed by Kate Ayers

  10. 4 out of 5

    Paul

    Okay, so Ryan Gattis has returned to the early-90's LA gang turf that served him so well in "All Involved," my favorite crime novel of the last decade. But what worked then works now, plus, I don't see a lot of other writers exploring this particular setting, which he depicts as central to the average American's understanding of crime and race, so he might as well claim it as his own. And okay, so there's not a lot of suspense in this book, and there wasn't a single twist. You'll notice, however, Okay, so Ryan Gattis has returned to the early-90's LA gang turf that served him so well in "All Involved," my favorite crime novel of the last decade. But what worked then works now, plus, I don't see a lot of other writers exploring this particular setting, which he depicts as central to the average American's understanding of crime and race, so he might as well claim it as his own. And okay, so there's not a lot of suspense in this book, and there wasn't a single twist. You'll notice, however, it's called "The System," and systems exist to prevent unexpected outcomes. There's conflict, of course, between the criminal justice system and the criminal system, and if Mr. Gattis isn't the first novelist to see a moral equivalency between the two, he's one of the best. And okay, so there may be too many characters with too many perspectives, which makes a simple story - drug dealer gets shot, her attacker goes on trial - long and complicated. Bad news: criminal justice is allegedly for our protection, not our entertainment. That we're convinced of the latter is a serious impediment to reform, as repeated allusions to the Menendez trial throughout "The System" indicate. Now, that's not to say that Mr. Gattis isn't capable of a few cute tricks, as a little sojourn to the "Small World" ride at Disneyland indicates. (On top of the play on words, the ride features tiny people dancing back and forth in their own little axes, trapped in a system -- well played, Mr. Gattis.) So it's the kind of crime novel that doesn't have you flipping through the pages toward the thrilling confusion, it's the kind of crime novel that has you reluctant to turn the pages because some terrible things are about to happen to some very real people. And that's an achievement.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Kate Ayers

    Wow. Okay, I gave it five stars. Maybe should be just a tad shy of that but this book is so authentic it warrants a very high rating. We're in greater LA, not to good part of town. Angela is breaking up with Jacob, which seems like a bad thing at the time but turns out to be really helpful. See, Scrappy, a drug dealer from another gang, gets shot at just about the same time, but Jacob gets fingered for it. We, the readers, go along with him to prison, to court, to meetings with his lawyer. We're Wow. Okay, I gave it five stars. Maybe should be just a tad shy of that but this book is so authentic it warrants a very high rating. We're in greater LA, not to good part of town. Angela is breaking up with Jacob, which seems like a bad thing at the time but turns out to be really helpful. See, Scrappy, a drug dealer from another gang, gets shot at just about the same time, but Jacob gets fingered for it. We, the readers, go along with him to prison, to court, to meetings with his lawyer. We're inside his head as he weighs how he's gonna survive. We also go along with Wizard, the other guy picked up for the shooting. We learn the dynamics between the muscle in the gang and the kids who just want to make it. We learn the prosecutor's strategy, and the defense. The witnesses -- mostly street thugs, prostitutes and addicts -- well, we listen to them too. There's so much going on here, so much to learn about how these people got where they are and why they do what they do. It's heartbreaking at the same time it will piss you off. But it's one heck of a read.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    The System is an engaging multiple POV read, focused on the aftermath of a gang ordered shooting in Lynwood in '93. We follow the victim, a witness, the shooter, a number of police officers and gang members, and the lawyers trying the case. Each character has their own unique voice, perspective, and reasoning and you feel consequences tightening on the characters with each passing chapter. It reminds me a bit of The Wire, on a smaller scale, because every character is shades of grey morality-wise The System is an engaging multiple POV read, focused on the aftermath of a gang ordered shooting in Lynwood in '93. We follow the victim, a witness, the shooter, a number of police officers and gang members, and the lawyers trying the case. Each character has their own unique voice, perspective, and reasoning and you feel consequences tightening on the characters with each passing chapter. It reminds me a bit of The Wire, on a smaller scale, because every character is shades of grey morality-wise. I was a bit disappointed in the conclusion, as it was largely "happy" and didn't seem to fit with the tone of the rest of the story. I will definitely recommend this book on its release. Thank you to the publisher, via Edelweiss, for providing me with an arc for review.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Paula Lyle

    Ryan Gattis is a great author who really embeds you in his stories. Different points of view are explored and exploited creating a tapestry of meaning and culture. For me, this book just had a little too much going on to be great. It is fascinating, but forced. I received an eARC through NetGalley.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Lynsay Tervit

    I received this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. The System is the latest novel from Ryan Gattis, and follows a number of characters who are linked in various ways to the commission of a crime. The book follows from every stage of the American criminal justice system, from a drug dealer being shot, to the arrest of the alleged culprits, following their journey through the system, up to the outcome of their trials. The book is set in Los Angeles in the aftermath of the Rodney I received this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. The System is the latest novel from Ryan Gattis, and follows a number of characters who are linked in various ways to the commission of a crime. The book follows from every stage of the American criminal justice system, from a drug dealer being shot, to the arrest of the alleged culprits, following their journey through the system, up to the outcome of their trials. The book is set in Los Angeles in the aftermath of the Rodney King riots, which adds layers of additional tension to the story, which includes characters from law enforcement, lawyers, parole officers and the people who fall subject to the criminal justice system, regardless of whether or not they are actually guilty. I found this book a bit slow to start, but I’m so glad I stuck with it! I really enjoyed it, and I thought it was interesting to experience all the facets of the criminal justice system from all different people who would work in it and be subject to its actions and outcomes. The main focus are characters called Wizard, who is a gang member and the person who shot the drug dealer called Scrappy, and his friend Dreamer, who is not a fully affiliated gang member, but is accused of being present when Scrappy is shot. I thought this was a great frame for this story, as you know that Wizard is definitely guilty and deserves to be put on trial for the shooting, but equally, you know that Dreamer is definitely innocent, so it demonstrates how difficult it may be to avoid the consequences of a situation like this, that you may be involved in through no fault of your own. Planted evidence, and a conspiracy of accusation can result in innocent parties being drawn into the system, and once in the process, you may have to participate in actions that keep you there, in order to survive. I really enjoyed it and would recommend it to anyone. The character are believable and interesting, and the circumstances are realistic. It’s well written and well paced, and it’s great to be able to follow a large number of different characters and see how their motivations can influence and change the potential outcomes.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Janet

    Phew what a journey that was! A dark and compelling snapshot of gang culture and the American criminal justice system, which can be both good and corrupt, following a gang shooting. The book is written in a very interesting way of multiple first party narratives so we really get to know what the characters are thinking and feeling. From the gang members to the parole officers, police officers, lawyers ... there must be around 15 characters we hear from to tell the story. It begins with a crime or Phew what a journey that was! A dark and compelling snapshot of gang culture and the American criminal justice system, which can be both good and corrupt, following a gang shooting. The book is written in a very interesting way of multiple first party narratives so we really get to know what the characters are thinking and feeling. From the gang members to the parole officers, police officers, lawyers ... there must be around 15 characters we hear from to tell the story. It begins with a crime ordered by a gang from within a prison for a dealer, Scrappy, to be shot. ‘Dreamer’ is in the process of being dumped by his girlfriend but he doesn’t realise this will actually benefit him immensely in the long run. Augie who has just gained his latest fix from his dealer witnesses her shooting. His quick action in putting a tourniquet on her leg saves her life. He pockets the gun to sell later. And also take all the drugs she has hidden on her before the police arrive. Unfortunately for him his new parole officer,Petrillo, visits his home and finding him high and therefore in contravention of his parole terms, searches his home. He finds the gun. Augie knows this will mean a long prison sentence so in a bid to avoid prison he tells Petrillo what he saw. The corrupt Petrillo uses this info for his own end, persuading Augie to lie about what he saw. Petrillo wants Dreamer’s girlfriend for himself and this seems like the perfect way to remove him from her life. Gangs look after their own so how will this play out? Gatiss writes some excellent scenes as we are carried along with the accused, the witnesses, the law enforcement officers, the lawyers and those gang members left on the outside to work out what actually happened that night. I admit I struggled a bit to get into the book as it did not grip me immediately but the background info is essential to understand the story. Thank you so much to NetGalley and the publishers Picador for an advance copy of this book to read and review.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Eleanore

    Ryan Gattis don't miss! I knew that going in, so I had high expectations, but this still ended up rising to meet them and then some, which is always one of my favorite experiences to have with a new book. The fact that it opens with a quote from a favorite Anne Sexton poem of mine (on which my favorite Peter Gabriel song was based, no less) was just an extra specific bit of icing on the cake. I'm still so impressed by the skill involved with taking a particular cast of characters — let alone one Ryan Gattis don't miss! I knew that going in, so I had high expectations, but this still ended up rising to meet them and then some, which is always one of my favorite experiences to have with a new book. The fact that it opens with a quote from a favorite Anne Sexton poem of mine (on which my favorite Peter Gabriel song was based, no less) was just an extra specific bit of icing on the cake. I'm still so impressed by the skill involved with taking a particular cast of characters — let alone one that can be tied realistically the another group in one of his other novels — and rotating among all their various points of view from section to section, always moving chronologically forward, never overlapping time, and yet also never bringing the interwoven plots to any point of confusion. I can only imagine what his outlines must look like. Yes, he's worked in this style multiple times, but does that make it any less gripping or impressive, at least for me? Not at all. Frankly, he could stick with it through several more novels, and as long as they remain this tight, I can't imagine growing tired of it. The short version: If you're a fan of LA crime writing, but grew tired of, let's say, Ellroy's overdone shtick (including but certainly not limited to: his thinly veiled personal obsessions, heavy-handed sprinklings of racism, not to mention his bizarre love affair with cops, all of which ages more poorly by the year), and instead are more interested in exploring LA crime fiction through a refreshing, more challenging lens, featuring just as many (and far more diverse, non-caricature) characters written by someone who clearly knows what their lives are more likely to be like, the ins and outs of their neighborhoods and, most of all here, all about the reality of the law enforcement/the carceral complex/the criminal justice system... Go with Gattis. He won't steer you wrong. Take it from me. I'm a picky as hell bookseller who used to be a criminologist. Here's to many more from Ryan Gattis.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Ross Cumming

    I’ve read Ryan Gattis’s two previous novels and thoroughly enjoyed them and didn’t realise this one had been released until I got it as a surprise Christmas gift. The novel is set in Lynwood, L.A. in December 1993 where local drug dealer Scrappy is shot by a pair of local gang bangers. The crime is witnessed by drug addict Augie, who goes to Scrappy’s aid and recalling his forces training attempts to save her life. Wizard and Dreamer are both gang members and get framed for the crime and the nov I’ve read Ryan Gattis’s two previous novels and thoroughly enjoyed them and didn’t realise this one had been released until I got it as a surprise Christmas gift. The novel is set in Lynwood, L.A. in December 1993 where local drug dealer Scrappy is shot by a pair of local gang bangers. The crime is witnessed by drug addict Augie, who goes to Scrappy’s aid and recalling his forces training attempts to save her life. Wizard and Dreamer are both gang members and get framed for the crime and the novel follows their journey through the Californian justice system from the scene of the crime through to their subsequent trial. While they are remanded awaiting trial, Dreamer’s ‘brother’, Little, the most unlikely of gang members, is tasked with investigating the crime, with a view to finding out who framed them. This is a great crime thriller which combines both the qualities of a straightforward Police procedural novel with the highly personal and emotional insights of all the players involved in the journey. The novel is told from the perspectives of all the people involved from the victim and accused through to the D.A. and defence attorneys. The legal aspects of the crime and the courts system all explained in layman’s terms and these explanations never feel forced in any way but form a vital part of the overall story. I would say the main thread of the novel focuses on Dreamer, a first time ‘offender’ who finds himself thrust into the prison system which is a foreign environment for him and one that is even more dangerous than the streets of Lynwood. He must do the bidding of others to prove himself if he wishes to survive but must also not accumulate any further charges which could prove his downfall and see his chances of acquittal vanish. The novel culminates in a thrilling piece of courtroom drama which is also punctuated by events in prison during the earthquake in 1994. Another great novel from Ryan Gattis that gives a real taste of how dangerous and complicated gang life on the streets and in the prisons of L.A. can be and how young lives can easily get caught up, swallowed and lost within the legal system of California.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Tilly Fitzgerald

    WHY HASN’T THIS BEEN GETTING SO MUCH MORE ATTENTION?! This book is just bloody outstanding. I don’t want to put words into former Presidents mouths, but I am pretty sure if Obama hadn’t been so busy writing his own book, he would’ve chosen this for his annual reading list. This is a penetrating, shocking and brutal look at the American justice system, from every angle - this story is told through the eyes of criminals, innocent men, parole officers, drug abusers, policemen, public defenders, pro WHY HASN’T THIS BEEN GETTING SO MUCH MORE ATTENTION?! This book is just bloody outstanding. I don’t want to put words into former Presidents mouths, but I am pretty sure if Obama hadn’t been so busy writing his own book, he would’ve chosen this for his annual reading list. This is a penetrating, shocking and brutal look at the American justice system, from every angle - this story is told through the eyes of criminals, innocent men, parole officers, drug abusers, policemen, public defenders, prosecutors and everything in between and you can absolutely tell that Gattis spent six years researching and preparing for this. It’s just brilliant. I loved the characters (maybe with one exception who I would gladly murder myself, sorry) - it was so refreshing to read about people involved in gangs that weren’t completely one dimensional. Gattis shows these “gangsters” as flawed humans, but also artistic, loving, selfless, thoughtful and afraid, trapped. ‘Wizard’ writes incredible rhymes, or raps, full of emotion, and ‘Dreamer’ finds a love of reading whilst in prison. It’s also great to see Gattis tackling the subjects of mental health, addiction and sexuality within the context of gangs, prison and the system, because why on earth would we assume those living in a world so different to ours wouldn’t still share the same experiences? I’m certainly no expert and have the most basic level of understanding but I’m still very aware that the American justice system is flawed - and this is one of the best fictionalised accounts of this I have ever read. The language, the violence, the honesty - I just want to urge everyone to pick this up. For anyone who loves books about crime and/or law written in a fresh voice that will immediately grab your attention without letting you go, this is the book for you. An absolute master storyteller for this genre - I cannot wait to read more from the author.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Dan

    After two outstanding novels in All Involved and Safe, Ryan Gattis has done it again. It's set eight months after the LA riots that were the background for All Involved, and has a few tangential connections with that book. It starts with one gang related crime, an attempted murder, and follows that through, covering the police investigation, the legal teams prosecuting and defending the case, the reactions of gang members on both sides of the incident, and life in the Californian prison system. After two outstanding novels in All Involved and Safe, Ryan Gattis has done it again. It's set eight months after the LA riots that were the background for All Involved, and has a few tangential connections with that book. It starts with one gang related crime, an attempted murder, and follows that through, covering the police investigation, the legal teams prosecuting and defending the case, the reactions of gang members on both sides of the incident, and life in the Californian prison system. It's a bigger and wider canvas than the previous books, but Gattis keeps it tight and focused. Once agin, it's an incredibly propulsive book that moves like a rocket but still leaves room for empathy. He does a great job of putting you inside the heads of characters from successful lawyers to gang kids stuck in an inescapable vicious circle. He does a fantastic job of building tension - in the courtroom sequence towards the end, I was so engaged with, and fearful of, the outcome that I had to put the book down and go for a walk (just around the house, obviously) because there was just too goddam much on the line and I couldn't take it. I will be first in line for Gattis' next book. If I had one wish, I'd go for it to have a contemporary setting - I'd love to see his take on how mobile phones and social media etc have affected the gang lives he describes so well. In meantime, go read this one.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Katrina Evans

    This is a fantastic book. It is without question one of the most tense dramas I've ever read and it NEEDS to be a film or series. I really enjoyed the links to All Involved, some are really obvious while others are more subtle (and I'm sure I missed loads). As with All Involved the people are portrayed as real people and not just mindless thugs. There are reasons for everything that happens, We, the readers might not understand or agree with the reasons but that doesn't invalidate them. I love h This is a fantastic book. It is without question one of the most tense dramas I've ever read and it NEEDS to be a film or series. I really enjoyed the links to All Involved, some are really obvious while others are more subtle (and I'm sure I missed loads). As with All Involved the people are portrayed as real people and not just mindless thugs. There are reasons for everything that happens, We, the readers might not understand or agree with the reasons but that doesn't invalidate them. I love how this book takes me to a world and a life style that is a million miles from rural Scotland yet makes me feel so....there. The characters, and I mean every single one of them, are wonderfully written and the complex, ever changing relationships between them is what pulls you in and keeps you engrossed. This book is an emotional roller coaster - I felt real anger towards Petrillo and how the corruption of one man can wreck so many lives. I felt so much pity and fear for Dreamer. I don;t know how I feel about Wizard - it changes on an almost hourly basis.... If you want a book that will make you think and feel then you will not be disappointed by The System.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Joe

    There can be no doubting Ryan Gattis' commitment to a project; he spent 6 years of his life researching this book, and it shows. It is a rare talent to take a story with so much background detail and to keep it as pacy and gripping as 'The System' is. Using a multi-narrative structure, just like the superb 'All Involved', Gattis takes us through the first moments a crime is committed, all the way to the resulting trial, covering everything in between. For me, the story never got dull or overly d There can be no doubting Ryan Gattis' commitment to a project; he spent 6 years of his life researching this book, and it shows. It is a rare talent to take a story with so much background detail and to keep it as pacy and gripping as 'The System' is. Using a multi-narrative structure, just like the superb 'All Involved', Gattis takes us through the first moments a crime is committed, all the way to the resulting trial, covering everything in between. For me, the story never got dull or overly descriptive about the processes involved; I was wary going into the trial scenes that it might slow down but those scenes were every bit as entertaining as the rest of the book. It is packed full of heart, too, being in various people's heads lets the reader see the real highs and lows the characters experience, as they experience them, not as they project outwards to their peers. This, I think, is where Gattis' research and numerous conversations with people who have gone through the system themselves really comes into its own. There is a sincerity of thought that just feels genuine, and that really helps the book to pack an emotional punch. All in all, a thoroughly entertaining and nuanced read. One that will stay with me for a while.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Angelica

    This is the first book by Ryan Gattis that I have read. The System was a great read and not my typical thriller. This book focuses largely on the criminal justice system. If you liked the show The Wire, then this book is for you. It gives you a very in-depth view of the CJ process, from the crime to the trial, from multiple POVs. It’s a book I don’t recommend reading while you’re tired, since it’s very detailed, but it was very enjoyable and worthwhile! **Thank you @netgalley for this complimenta This is the first book by Ryan Gattis that I have read. The System was a great read and not my typical thriller. This book focuses largely on the criminal justice system. If you liked the show The Wire, then this book is for you. It gives you a very in-depth view of the CJ process, from the crime to the trial, from multiple POVs. It’s a book I don’t recommend reading while you’re tired, since it’s very detailed, but it was very enjoyable and worthwhile! **Thank you @netgalley for this complimentary eARC in exchange for my honest review. **

  23. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

    This book was good. Like really, really good. The character development was on point. I cared about all of the characters and yet couldn’t even tell you what they looked like. But I felt like I knew them and that was way more important than any description of their physicality. The story got me from the very beginning and I couldn’t wait to find out the verdict. So many twists and turns and an inside look into the prison system and gang culture. Just super well done. Definitely want to read more This book was good. Like really, really good. The character development was on point. I cared about all of the characters and yet couldn’t even tell you what they looked like. But I felt like I knew them and that was way more important than any description of their physicality. The story got me from the very beginning and I couldn’t wait to find out the verdict. So many twists and turns and an inside look into the prison system and gang culture. Just super well done. Definitely want to read more by this author.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Patrick Hickey

    Fantastic. As with All Involved, the characters are real people, and you get to see how they react within the context of LA society. Exciting and engaging from the first page to the last, you are going to finish it quickly because you won't want to put it down. This novel was 5 stars for me, 100%. I would be weary of any review giving it less than 4 because this novel is just undeniably real, and relevant, all the while entertaining, as should any great reading experience. Fantastic. As with All Involved, the characters are real people, and you get to see how they react within the context of LA society. Exciting and engaging from the first page to the last, you are going to finish it quickly because you won't want to put it down. This novel was 5 stars for me, 100%. I would be weary of any review giving it less than 4 because this novel is just undeniably real, and relevant, all the while entertaining, as should any great reading experience.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Cristie Underwood

    This was a great fictional account of the prison system. Despite it being fictional, it was based on the very real issues in the system. I like how the author wrote this from all sides of the crime, the one that is accused of having committed the crime, the witness, the prosecutor and the defense attorney. The author covered a lot of different perspectives, but didn't lose anything from the flow of the story. This was a great fictional account of the prison system. Despite it being fictional, it was based on the very real issues in the system. I like how the author wrote this from all sides of the crime, the one that is accused of having committed the crime, the witness, the prosecutor and the defense attorney. The author covered a lot of different perspectives, but didn't lose anything from the flow of the story.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Doug Yonce

    Very interesting approach to a criminal case. When two inner-city men are accused of multiple crimes, including murder, the story unfolds form multiple perspectives. First person jumps from character to character as the criminal justice system is examined/explained/revealed/exposed. I received an advanced digital copy of this book from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Ryan

    This book kept me enthralled from start to finish. I enjoyed the multiple points of view in the book as well as the complete detail of the criminal justice system that individuals have to experience. Excellent read, well written and you feel like you are the one behind bars when the prison system is being described.. Well done Ryan, cannot wait for the next one!

  28. 4 out of 5

    Farhan

    Superb. A real thumping and thrilling ride. Excellent characters. Ryan Gattis has done an exception job of explaining the relationship between crime, law and punishment as it exists in the US. Race relations are exposed fully. All with a gripping underlying story. 5/5.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Signora

    Sobering account of those caught up in the gang life, drugs, law enforcement, trial court and the prison system surrounding a shooting in Lynwood.

  30. 5 out of 5

    TC

    Recommended Review posted at Tzer Island book blog: https://www.tzerisland.com/bookblog/2... Recommended Review posted at Tzer Island book blog: https://www.tzerisland.com/bookblog/2...

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