“Gripping, meticulously researched, and smartly plotted, I devoured this brilliant novel over the course of a weekend.” —Paula Hawkins, author of Into the Water
“Fascinating, moving, and so very, very real. It grabbed me by the heart and mind from page one and never let me go.” —Marcia Clark, author of The Final Judgment
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.
On the night of Dec. 6, 1993, heroin addict Augie Clark, a key player in this ambitious crime novel set in L.A. from Gattis (Safe), witnesses his dealer, Scrappy, getting shot outside her mother's house, and recognizes 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. The long, torturous road to trial offers a devastating portrait of the criminal network operating from jails, and shows how a person like Dreamer, the book's only sympathetic character, has little hope of justice. At times, this reads like a legal thriller, but with a lot more grit and sharper than usual characterization. Gattis expands the story dramatically through multiple first-person monologues from those on both sides of the criminal justice system. Too often, though, the monologues self-consciously strive for profundity in hard-to-swallow ways. Still, this is a story with great resonance for today.