Wow! “The System” by Ryan Gattis is a gripping, thriller about gang life in Lynwood near Los Angeles, California. The story centers around an attempted murder of one gang member towards another rival gang’s member. The “green light” hit of the rival is made from a California prison where the leaders of most of the gangs reside and run things on the outside.
The story, written in Gattis’ hallmark multiple narrator style, is told from the perspective of the myriad of people impacted by the attempted murder. The would-be murderer, the accomplice, the roommate, the girlfriend, the parole officer, the arresting officer, the DA, the defense attorney, and then gang members attempting to tie up loose ends that could get the case dismissed.
There is so much going on in the story both on the surface with the many characters involved, and then below the surface. There are several themes about freedom and control. There are ideas about identity, responsibility, and family that all go into the gears that keep gangs moving and thriving in the area. Gattis delves deep into the machinations of how these systems work within and outside of the law, and the various devices, loopholes, and levers that the legal system, law enforcement, and then the private citizen utilize to gain leverage.
Ryan Gattis’ novel is aptly named, “The System” as it outlines and describes the various arms and workings of a complex ‘system’ of law enforcement and justice that turns every day in every major city in America with its own subtleties. “The System” is both a continuation and separate entity to Gattis’ previous novel on LA gangs, titled “All Involved.” If you enjoyed that book, this one is even better!