The best books about outlaw motorcycle clubs

4 authors have picked their favorite books about outlaw motorcycle clubs and why they recommend each book.

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Under and Alone

By William Queen,

Book cover of Under and Alone: The True Story of the Undercover Agent Who Infiltrated America's Most Violent Outlaw Motorcycle Gang

Vietnam vet William Queen was capping a 20-year law enforcement career in 1998 when the ATF agent wangled an invitation to join the San Fernando Valley chapter of the notorious Mongols motorcycle club under the code name Billy St. John. He spent the next 28 months rising undercover to the rank of treasurer and vice president, allowing him to provide documents for the arrest and indictment of 54 members by 700 officers in four different states. Queen’s 2005 bestselling true crime memoir of his Mongols days ranges from bone-chilling to side-splitting for terror and laughs. Although Mel Gibson reportedly bought the screen rights, a movie has yet to appear.

Who am I?

During my 45-year career as a newspaper and magazine journalist, I covered a wide range of events on a daily basis. As a police and courts reporter for two daily newspapers, I spent many hours researching and writing about crime and legal affairs. As a reader, I’ve enjoyed true crime. As the target of a true-crime myself in 1980, however, I became more fascinated with the sub-genre of the true-crime memoir in which a participant in a true-crime shares insider details of the story without seeking pity or glorification from the reader through objectivity and self-deprecating humor. It’s a fine line. When an author manages to walk it, however, the result proves inspirational.


I wrote...

Luggage by Kroger: A True Crime Memoir

By Gary Taylor,

Book cover of Luggage by Kroger: A True Crime Memoir

What is my book about?

Luggage by Kroger is my memoir of a year when, as a Houston newspaper reporter, I survived a true-life Fatal Attraction adventure that culminated with my attempted murder in 1980 at the hands of a notorious female attorney. Twice optioned for movies, this story made me the poster boy for true-life Fatal Attraction appearances on Oprah, Regis, 48 Hours, and other television programs. Since its publication in 2008, Luggage by Kroger has been a fixture on the Kindle Store’s lists of bestselling true crime and criminology titles, attracting rave reviews and winning five national book awards.

Hell's Angels

By Hunter S. Thompson,

Book cover of Hell's Angels: A Strange and Terrible Saga: A Strange and Terrible Saga

Nothing beats an author willing to immerse himself into an outlaw world to get their perspective – until that world starts to literally beat the writer. Hunter Thompson’s first book is more of a journalistic work, examining the infamous biker gang from the inside than what would follow (Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas and so on.) He is very much part of the action at riotous parties, on bar stools, and alongside at motorcycle runs, but his first-person narration is an effective tool for revealing the Hell's Angels as independent people and as a fraternal organization. The writer and his subjects willingly project their images of unrepentant criminals. But when Thompson is on the receiving end of a gang beatdown, it’s a reminder that the line between outlaw and citizen can be hazy, and you might not know you’ve crossed it until blood’s being spilled.      


Who am I?

As a journalist and author of history books who's lived in Texas for most of my adult life, I've found myself unavoidably steeped in Texas Ranger lore. I didn't understand how such a small force could enter unfamiliar areas of Texas and get any results as law enforcement officers. This central question led to me the operations of Company F during 1886-1888. I found the showdowns were just one part of the story. Researching these topics meant learning about the Rangers' outlaw targets - following another journalistic impulse to give both sides of this story an equal hearing. What resulted is a nuanced, complex tale that hopefully will open eyes instead of pointing fingers.


I wrote...

Red Sky Morning: The Epic True Story of Texas Ranger Company F

By Joe Pappalardo,

Book cover of Red Sky Morning: The Epic True Story of Texas Ranger Company F

What is my book about?

Many books about the Texas Rangers are told strictly from the point of view of the lawmen and don’t dwell on those of their targets. In Red Sky Morning, I describe both sides of several clashes for a more complete view of the outlaws’ personalities and motivations, as well as the effect the Rangers had on the communities where their manhunts unfolded. The book is set in the late 1800s, but it’s more inspired by the movie Heat than westerns like Tombstone.  

Maybe I spent too much time as a journalist, but I enjoy finding forgotten accounts that reexamine official narratives. These new points of view aren't always sympathetic to the criminals, but they certainly help explain why they made the decisions that led them to cross paths with the Texas Rangers.  

Outlaws

By Tony Thompson,

Book cover of Outlaws: Inside the Violent World of Biker Gangs

One of my reasons for starting to write about the UK outlaw biker scene in particular was that no one else seemed to be treating it seriously. That all changed when Tony Thompson, a highly respected journalist with a track record of highly readable and successful books on the UK gangland and crime scene produced this.

This book is the biography of ex-Outlaws MC member Daniel "Snake Dog" Boone, but through it, Thompson tells the wider story of the development of the UK outlaw biker scene since the eighties and how it has been affected by international biker politics, up to and including the 2007 murder of Gerry Tobin. Thoroughly recommended and essential reading for anyone interested in the club scene in England. I’ve said that if this had come out before my first biker book, the chances are I’d have never finished writing it.


Who am I?

I became obsessed with motorcycles at an early age, taking a six hundred mile cross-country tour to Cornwall as soon as I’d bought a moped at sixteen, working as a London dispatch rider, and then building my first chopper in my (upstairs) university bedroom and have been fascinated by what I’ve seen over the years of the ‘club life.’ Whatever you think about outlaw biker clubs, there’s no denying it’s a serious lifestyle choice involving real commitment and having serious consequences, but it wasn’t a subject being addressed with serious fiction. So I set out to explore this world and what it would mean to be involved. 


I wrote...

Heavy Duty People (The Brethren Trilogy)

By Iain Parke, Martin Robertson,

Book cover of Heavy Duty People (The Brethren Trilogy)

What is my book about?

Damage’s club has had an offer it can’t refuse, to patch over to join The Brethren MC. But as the bikes rumble and roar across the wild Northern fells, what does this mean for Damage and his brothers? What choices will they have to make as they ride through the wind? What bloody oil-stained history might it reawaken? And why are The Brethren making this offer?

Loyalty to his club and his brothers has been Damage’s life and route to wealth, but what happens when business becomes serious and brother starts killing brother? Get Carter meets Sons of Anarchy in this gritty British crime thriller. From being in a gang to becoming a gangster, Heavy Duty People is the book that invented Biker Noir.

The Brotherhoods

By Arthur Veno,

Book cover of The Brotherhoods: Inside the Outlaw Motorcycle Clubs

The books I’m recommending have all been key sources of insight in differing ways into the realities of the club worlds and cultures. This is a definite recommendation as one of the best “informed outsider’s” overviews I found.

It’s something of a rarity in the outlaw book world being a book by what seems to be a very well-informed and connected outsider (although I understand there has also been criticism of the content) which strives and manages to present a view that seems both balanced and nuanced. I like it because it doesn’t whitewash, nor does it condemn, instead it tries to show and explain.

Australia has a strong bikie culture that draws on a long tradition of ‘mateship’ and this book gives a glimpse behind the scenes of the rules and rituals of club membership, as well as the history of clubs in Australia.


Who am I?

I became obsessed with motorcycles at an early age, taking a six hundred mile cross-country tour to Cornwall as soon as I’d bought a moped at sixteen, working as a London dispatch rider, and then building my first chopper in my (upstairs) university bedroom and have been fascinated by what I’ve seen over the years of the ‘club life.’ Whatever you think about outlaw biker clubs, there’s no denying it’s a serious lifestyle choice involving real commitment and having serious consequences, but it wasn’t a subject being addressed with serious fiction. So I set out to explore this world and what it would mean to be involved. 


I wrote...

Heavy Duty People (The Brethren Trilogy)

By Iain Parke, Martin Robertson,

Book cover of Heavy Duty People (The Brethren Trilogy)

What is my book about?

Damage’s club has had an offer it can’t refuse, to patch over to join The Brethren MC. But as the bikes rumble and roar across the wild Northern fells, what does this mean for Damage and his brothers? What choices will they have to make as they ride through the wind? What bloody oil-stained history might it reawaken? And why are The Brethren making this offer?

Loyalty to his club and his brothers has been Damage’s life and route to wealth, but what happens when business becomes serious and brother starts killing brother? Get Carter meets Sons of Anarchy in this gritty British crime thriller. From being in a gang to becoming a gangster, Heavy Duty People is the book that invented Biker Noir.

The Bandido Massacre

By Peter Edwards,

Book cover of The Bandido Massacre

I found this telling of the Shedden massacre of eight Bandidos at the hands of a mix of club mates and deranged wannabes, including a one-time failed police officer who was looking to reinvent himself as an outlaw biker player, very affecting, reading as it does like an almost Shakespearian real-life tragedy.

Edwards, along with Jerry Langton one of the key chroniclers of the Canadian outlaw biker scene, tells the stories of the dead men, introducing a group ranging from established bikers to probationers, loners to family men, and petty criminals to ordinary working stiffs; laying out how they all came to be facing their death one after another in a Nazi fantasist’s barn.


Who am I?

I became obsessed with motorcycles at an early age, taking a six hundred mile cross-country tour to Cornwall as soon as I’d bought a moped at sixteen, working as a London dispatch rider, and then building my first chopper in my (upstairs) university bedroom and have been fascinated by what I’ve seen over the years of the ‘club life.’ Whatever you think about outlaw biker clubs, there’s no denying it’s a serious lifestyle choice involving real commitment and having serious consequences, but it wasn’t a subject being addressed with serious fiction. So I set out to explore this world and what it would mean to be involved. 


I wrote...

Heavy Duty People (The Brethren Trilogy)

By Iain Parke, Martin Robertson,

Book cover of Heavy Duty People (The Brethren Trilogy)

What is my book about?

Damage’s club has had an offer it can’t refuse, to patch over to join The Brethren MC. But as the bikes rumble and roar across the wild Northern fells, what does this mean for Damage and his brothers? What choices will they have to make as they ride through the wind? What bloody oil-stained history might it reawaken? And why are The Brethren making this offer?

Loyalty to his club and his brothers has been Damage’s life and route to wealth, but what happens when business becomes serious and brother starts killing brother? Get Carter meets Sons of Anarchy in this gritty British crime thriller. From being in a gang to becoming a gangster, Heavy Duty People is the book that invented Biker Noir.

Fallen Angel

By Jerry Langton,

Book cover of Fallen Angel

When I’m reading about the biker scene what I’m looking for is the reality that underlies the public image and stereotypes. Jerry Langton doesn’t come across as a big fan of bikers but he’s well connected enough to speak to senior players and he’s a professional writer, so what he has to say is very readable, and to me, informative.

Through telling the extraordinary story of five foot four Walter "Nurget" Stadnick’s rise to criminally visionary national president of the Hell's Angels this book provides one of the best overviews of the development of the outlaw biker world in Canada, the Canadian biker wars, and the involvement of biker clubs in Canada in organised crime (although as a niggle it’s crying out for a map).


Who am I?

I became obsessed with motorcycles at an early age, taking a six hundred mile cross-country tour to Cornwall as soon as I’d bought a moped at sixteen, working as a London dispatch rider, and then building my first chopper in my (upstairs) university bedroom and have been fascinated by what I’ve seen over the years of the ‘club life.’ Whatever you think about outlaw biker clubs, there’s no denying it’s a serious lifestyle choice involving real commitment and having serious consequences, but it wasn’t a subject being addressed with serious fiction. So I set out to explore this world and what it would mean to be involved. 


I wrote...

Heavy Duty People (The Brethren Trilogy)

By Iain Parke, Martin Robertson,

Book cover of Heavy Duty People (The Brethren Trilogy)

What is my book about?

Damage’s club has had an offer it can’t refuse, to patch over to join The Brethren MC. But as the bikes rumble and roar across the wild Northern fells, what does this mean for Damage and his brothers? What choices will they have to make as they ride through the wind? What bloody oil-stained history might it reawaken? And why are The Brethren making this offer?

Loyalty to his club and his brothers has been Damage’s life and route to wealth, but what happens when business becomes serious and brother starts killing brother? Get Carter meets Sons of Anarchy in this gritty British crime thriller. From being in a gang to becoming a gangster, Heavy Duty People is the book that invented Biker Noir.

Undeniable

By Madeline Sheehan,

Book cover of Undeniable

Undeniable is the raw and dirty story of Eva and Deuce. As the children of leaders of outlaw motorcycle clubs, they have expectations placed on them. These pressures both drive them apart and together at the same time. It’s not a pretty tale. It’s complicated. Everything is in their way, but they persevere. They go through hell to be together. It’s not the typical love story, but it’s theirs.


Who am I?

Maybe it was because I fell in love with Sons of Anarchy and needed more when the series ended. Maybe it was because I’ve always loved alpha holes. Either way, motorcycle club romances just fit in my reader wheelhouse. There's something about the ultimate bad boys who will burn the world down for that one woman. I think what appeals to me most is that these couples, their relationships, are never perfect. The men don’t magically become the perfect boyfriends. They still screw up, but they love in their own gritty, possessive, dirty way with their whole hearts. When I devoured every audiobook I could find, I decided to try my hand at writing one. 


I wrote...

Jacob: Odin’s Fury Motorcycle Club

By Victoria Jayne,

Book cover of Jacob: Odin’s Fury Motorcycle Club

What is my book about?

Looking to ride off into the sunset with the love of your life? When the road gets bumpy, will Jacob and Sparrow hang on tight or find their own paths? 

Jacob is a slow burn, second chance romance with a redefined cinnamon roll. Jacob and Sparrow met in their youth but distance, time, and club life kept them apart. They have a second chance. Will their loyalties get in the way of taking it?

Sinner's Creed

By Kim Jones,

Book cover of Sinner's Creed

I have never ugly cried from a book as hard as I did for Sinner’s Creed. Deep down, I knew what would happen. I knew [sorta] how it would end, but held out hope for a different outcome. Dirk and Saylor’s love is pure despite the darkness around them. Dirk is devoted to Saylor and she shares that same level of commitment. This book tore me apart in the most perfect way.


Who am I?

Maybe it was because I fell in love with Sons of Anarchy and needed more when the series ended. Maybe it was because I’ve always loved alpha holes. Either way, motorcycle club romances just fit in my reader wheelhouse. There's something about the ultimate bad boys who will burn the world down for that one woman. I think what appeals to me most is that these couples, their relationships, are never perfect. The men don’t magically become the perfect boyfriends. They still screw up, but they love in their own gritty, possessive, dirty way with their whole hearts. When I devoured every audiobook I could find, I decided to try my hand at writing one. 


I wrote...

Jacob: Odin’s Fury Motorcycle Club

By Victoria Jayne,

Book cover of Jacob: Odin’s Fury Motorcycle Club

What is my book about?

Looking to ride off into the sunset with the love of your life? When the road gets bumpy, will Jacob and Sparrow hang on tight or find their own paths? 

Jacob is a slow burn, second chance romance with a redefined cinnamon roll. Jacob and Sparrow met in their youth but distance, time, and club life kept them apart. They have a second chance. Will their loyalties get in the way of taking it?

Reaper's Fall

By Joanna Wylde,

Book cover of Reaper's Fall

Painter screwed up. He made the wrong choice and he knew it. Melanie swore off bikers to protect her daughter. It didn’t matter that they still loved each other. They couldn’t be together. Until Melanie makes the wrong choice and violates their rules.

This second chance romance had hold of my emotions from page one. I went on a roller coaster with Painter and Melanie.


Who am I?

Maybe it was because I fell in love with Sons of Anarchy and needed more when the series ended. Maybe it was because I’ve always loved alpha holes. Either way, motorcycle club romances just fit in my reader wheelhouse. There's something about the ultimate bad boys who will burn the world down for that one woman. I think what appeals to me most is that these couples, their relationships, are never perfect. The men don’t magically become the perfect boyfriends. They still screw up, but they love in their own gritty, possessive, dirty way with their whole hearts. When I devoured every audiobook I could find, I decided to try my hand at writing one. 


I wrote...

Jacob: Odin’s Fury Motorcycle Club

By Victoria Jayne,

Book cover of Jacob: Odin’s Fury Motorcycle Club

What is my book about?

Looking to ride off into the sunset with the love of your life? When the road gets bumpy, will Jacob and Sparrow hang on tight or find their own paths? 

Jacob is a slow burn, second chance romance with a redefined cinnamon roll. Jacob and Sparrow met in their youth but distance, time, and club life kept them apart. They have a second chance. Will their loyalties get in the way of taking it?

Jerk It (Madd CrossFit)

By Lani Lynn Vale,

Book cover of Jerk It (Madd CrossFit)

Another author who writes in a single world, Vale’s group of cops, motorcycle gang members, and CrossFit enthusiasts (to name a few of the groups) are always enjoyable to read about. Once again on my list, family is more than blood (although there are a lot of blood family ties in her world!). Once-friends, to delivering a baby on the side of the road, and trying to avoid one another makes for a story where you can’t help but cheer this couple on. Mavis and Murphy’s relationship starts with a wail and leaves you emotionally wrung out—in the best of ways. 


Who am I?

I hate saying goodbye. Picking up a book and being introduced to an entire group of people—family, friends, teammates—and knowing you get to continue to watch these relationships bloom over a course of books is part of the reason I pick up a book in the first place. I want to see these characters pop in twenty books down the road. I absolutely love cameos of old characters! Because of this, I write in a singular world as well. My Prescotts may be the base of the world at the moment, but it’s also their friends at O’Gallaghers and their teammates with the Enforcers hockey team that keep the world growing—and it’s not ending anytime soon.


I wrote...

Butterfly Save (Prescott Brothers)

By Mignon Mykel,

Book cover of Butterfly Save (Prescott Brothers)

What is my book about?

The first to get married, the only to get divorced… Jonny Prescott is the “broken” brother. 

After his surprise retirement announcement, hockey goaltender Jonny Prescott decides to hide away in the Northern Wisconsin woods—away from everything and everyone. No limelight. Little recognition. The last thing he expects is to be drawn to his equally isolated neighbor. Summer is far too young to be so jaded, but Jonny can’t help but want to break this butterfly free.

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