Book review: The System

The System

Justice Is A Matter of Perspective

Ryan Gattis

Picador Proof

Review: Voox Sonandzi

Hailed as one of America’s most gifted novelists of his generation, Ryan Gattis does not disappoint with his new offering, The System.

Gattis, who lectures at Chapman University in Southern California, spent six years interviewing detectives, parole officers, gang members and prosecutors to give real energy to his characters. This he does with great aplomb.

On December 6, 1993, a drug dealer named Scrappy is shot and left for dead on her mother’s lawn.

An addict who witnessed the incident seizes the opportunity to steal from the deceased, parting with drugs and a gun.

When police catch him, he points to two known gangsters, Dreamer and Wizard, as the shooters. With the duo in prison, police have a problem to solve: one of them is guilty, the other is innocent.

The gun used in the shooting is found miles away from the crime scene and the gang responsible instructs Dreamer and Wizard to zip their mouths and take their charges.

Things get exciting when the unlikeliest of gang members, Little Guy, shows dogged determination to find out why his best friend, Dreamer, was framed for Scrappy’s murder.

This is a precarious move because Little Guy is new to the gang and his homosexuality puts him on the awkward periphery of testosterone-fuelled gang life.

He has to discover how the gun got moved, who moved it and why.

Wizard liked him too so he tasked him with finding out who’s out to tag them for the attempted murder. In the process, Little Guy uncovers a conspiracy.

I dare not spoil a reader’s fun but The System is a breakneck journey played out in the streets, precincts and courtrooms of Los Angeles.

The book stands out because it is a reminder that no matter how complex the system, what’s important is the people it’s meant to serve.