Let It Ride is John McFetridge’s third book in the Toronto police precinct/motorcycle club series and also his hands-down fucking best. The world of this series just keeps getting bigger and the comparisons to The Wire just keep getting more apt. No one in crime today is tackling the genre with such authenticity, ambition, scope, and balls – and that’s the not the least fucking bit hyperbolic, dear reader. But then again, that shit would be old news to you if you’d read his first two novels, Dirty Sweet and Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere, already (which, you know, you should do, like, fucking yesterday).
The central story of Let It Ride involves Detroit gunrunner Get and Toronto’s rub-and-tug princess Sunitha looking to rob the Saints of Hell’s massive gold stash and escape the life for good. Get is getting pressure from his mom and uncle back home to help take their operation to the next level, make it something approaching the scope of what the Saints have cooking. As Get is allowed access into the Saints’ business via his old war buddy J.T., he starts feeling that maybe going worldwide is not the direction he wants his life to take. Sunitha has been moonlighting lately with a lesbian couple, the three of them taking off rich white ladies at fancy (non-handjob related) day spas and then selling their jewelry to J.T. at a cost far shittier than what it’s worth. These two disillusioned souls fall hard for each other during Get’s tour of Toronto, and soon enough they’re starting to put together a plan. But the Saints fucking own Toronto, if not all of Canada, and can two crazy kids really pull one over on the infamous motorcycle club and expect to get away with their lives?
But if you’ve read McFetridge’s shit before, you know that that story is just a drop in the bucket compared to all the other shit that’s going on the novel. The greater arc of this series has been about the rocket-ship rise to power of the Saints and the powerlessness of the cops to stop their progress. To go through the entire roster of characters and their individual storylines in this world would take thousands of words and ruin the many surprises to be had in Let It Ride, because though McFetridge always has an Elmore Leonard-esque central story at the heart of his novels, the massive cast of characters surrounding that story bring the novel near something authentic and gritty like, fucking say it with me already, The Wire.
This is some authentic feeling shit, dear reader, from the movie producer parties to the biker club patch-over bashes, nothing feels false or glamourized. We see cops treating the job like what it is (a job) and club members, their business savvy having taken them out of the directly criminal aspects of the life, missing the thrill of violence and action. In many ways, another point of comparison for this novel is The Sopranos, as witnessed by the ennui experienced by characters who got what they wanted (legitimacy, riches) too early to find that they miss the struggle, that they need the hunt to stay sane.
Basically, dear reader, you should be reading John McFetridge. His shit is too important, too original, too epic, and too much fucking fun to miss out on. Pick up the whole series and get at that shit, but remember to close your gaping mouth once in a while – you don’t want to let on to the fact that your brain just fucking exploded in awe.