CM . . . . Volume XXIV Number 17 . . . . January 5, 2018
Josh Williams is nursing a knee injury during the summer before Grade 12. The plan is that he'll score a football scholarship to get into university and escape a dead-end job in small-town St. Thomas, ON. Josh spends time each day exercising his knee and working as a gofer at the local newspaper, the Sun-Sentinel.
One hot summer evening, Josh finds himself talking to Brenda, the 'goddess' he has seen in the hallways at school but never spoken to. Sound like the best summer ever? Well, Josh has bumped into Brenda at a biker gang party. The two have found they have something else in common: Josh's brother Jamie is involved with the local biker gang, the Annihilators, and Brenda's brother Trent is the gang's meth-cook. Josh has found his otherwise straight-laced life overlaps with this violent world.
While driving home from the gym the next day, Josh sees his brother having words with Trent. The next day, news is released that Trent has been found dead. Could the fight Josh witnessed have resulted in murder? Rumour has it that rival gang, the Popeyes, are looking to move into the area. Could this have something to do with it? Things amp up when Jamie is arrested and charged for murder, and Josh uses his amateur investigative reporting skills to search for evidence to prove that his brother is innocent.
The Biker's Brother is told through Josh's point of view, and the fast-paced plot includes an interesting glimpse into biker life. Josh's plan to focus on football and to get into university to make a future for himself is admirable. His decision to include himself in the violent gang lifestyle is not. It may be difficult for some readers who admire some of Josh's choices to balance that with how he can ignore the violence, drugs and other goings-on that he witnesses with no apparent concern. While Josh is a well-written character whatever his flaws, most of the other characters are quite one-dimensional which often makes it difficult to understand their behaviour. Teen readers who stick with this novel may become caught up in the suspense. However, when the conclusion comes, it comes in a sudden and not quite satisfactory manner.
Peter Edwards, the author of 15 nonfiction books for adults, is a journalist for the Toronto Star and has had first-hand dealings with bike gangs.
Chris Laurie is an Outreach Librarian at Winnipeg Public Library.