Thriller of the Month in The Times and the Guardian.
Book of the Week in the Daily Telegraph.
The System can save you, or it can break you . . .
On the sixth of December 1993, a drug dealer named Scrappy is shot and left for dead on her mother’s lawn in South Central Los Angeles. A heroin addict witnesses the shooting and seizes the moment to steal Scrappy’s drugs, as well as the handgun that was dropped at the scene. When he’s busted, he names two local gang members as the shooters.
There’s only one problem: one of them is guilty; the other, innocent. None of that matters, though, when the gun turns up again – miles from where the shooting happened – and both are arrested. Innocent or not, the gang tells them both to keep their mouths shut and take their charges.
With these two off the streets, Little, the unlikeliest of new gang members, is given a very serious job: discover how the gun got moved, who moved it, and why. Because it had to be a frame-up and the cops had to be involved. Hadn't they?
Played out in the streets, precincts, jails, and courtrooms of Los Angeles, The System by Ryan Gattis is a breakneck journey through every phase of the American criminal justice system. It is the story of a crime – from the moments before shots are fired, to the verdict and its violent aftershocks – told through the vivid chorus of those involved: the guilty, the innocent, the victim, the families who love them, and those simply doing their jobs. After all, justice is a matter of perspective.
"one of our most gifted novelists" - Michael Connelly on Ryan Gattis
"one of our most gifted novelists" - Michael Connelly on Ryan Gattis
Average rating from 19 members
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.
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.
This 90s LA crime novel is a multi-voiced and layered read seeping with authenticity & an addictive plot! The effects of a shooting on the streets play out in the jail & courthouse to a startling degree. Gattis' knocks it out of the park following on from his amazing books All Involved & Safe.
Tragic, inspiring, humbling and powerful. You simply have to read this. If you are interested in detective stories, the human condition, social situations, psychology, the justice system, equality, delinquency, human interaction, justice, courtroom drama, or just enjoy a book where you really want to know what happens, you simply have to read this life changing book. You might have to work at first, but in my view it is definitely worth it. I was initially worried when I first began it, as the book is set as a series of first hand accounts from the main characters, and so based on individual perspectives, with a number of viewpoints. I normally do not like that because it can end up with superficial characters. I was wrong. The characters became very real to me. The main characters for the most part showed a depth and strength of character that I found both inspiring and humbling. I found the first few chapters were a bit hard going because of the narrative structure though, but I gradually became hooked. The individual narratives painted a very clear picture of what is, and must be, a very real state of existence for many people. The story was gripping, and the characters and events were painted beautifully through their thoughts and feelings. Nobody in the book was without flaws, and their characters and motivations were plainly, sometimes painfully, displayed. The book contains a solid understanding of the system and how people can be absorbed into it, and changed by it, and is a life changing read.
The System is set in the Los Angeles in the same area as Ryan Gattis' novel about the L.A, riots, "All Involved", and if you enjoyed that you'll love this book. While there are allusions to events in "All Involved" and a handful of characters are mentioned this isn't a sequel . The story starts in December 1993 when drug dealer Scrappy is shot and left for dead in a gang hit. A junkie who was in the act of buying from Scrappy sees the whole thing and after giving her first aid takes advantage of the situation and helps himself to the drugd she's carrying and the gun the would-be assassins have left at the scene. Under pressure from his parole officer he identifies the killers,one he's seen and one he's been told to identify . This is a great story,the small cast of main characters often let each other down then redeem themselves, good people have to become bad and bad people often show signs of inner nobility. Gattis draws his characters skilfully and captures their thoughts and feelings . As the title suggests the book isn't just about a murder,it's about the entire American Criminal Justice system as it follows events through various character's eyes from the actual murder,through arrests,jail,trial and probation. Also shown is the grip the street gangs have on their members with them often committing serious crimes on the say so of .higher echelon gangsters who they may not even have met. The book is involving,often ,moving and totally engrossing. If you've not read Ryan Gattis before you'll love this if you're a fan of Richard Price or Don Winslow. One thing that really hit home with me Gattis detailing the hardcore criminal activity of his characters then dropping in something in to remind the reader that these are basically children he's talking about,already brutalised and fighting for survival in a Dog eat Dog world. My book of the year so far.