In contemporary America, the typical book review is motivated by the logic of marketing. Since by definition readers are consumers, this means reviews are informed by the following question, a question that's supposed to remain politely hidden in the background: "Is the book under consideration worth the purchase price?"
And because Donald Charles Davis' book belongs to the subgenre commonly referred to as 'true-crime,' the question tossed out in the previous paragraph is pertinent for a couple of reasons: first, there are bazillions of true-crime books published every year simply because such books are popular with readers; second, many of the books are poorly researched, even more poorly written and, most unfortunate because it's a kind of literary kiss-of-death, comprise subjects/true-crimes that readers don't want to read much less spend money on. In short, the books are boring and no one gives a hoot.
The fact of the matter is that Davis' book ' Framing Dave Burgess
' is extremely good, very readable, and embraces a subject that most readers, whether they're aware of it or not, will likely find fascinating, especially if said readers happen to of the male gender and more especially, if they happen to ride motorcycles.
Simply put: Framing Dave Burgess
is about the Hell's Angels motorcycle club, and their status as personae non gratae
and their subsequent persecution.
Davis begins by discussing the "attraction of the idea of the Hells Angels," which Davis portrays as a group of men who have refused to abandon and surrender their masculinity. As Davis so succinctly summarizes it, "Hells Angels do not permit themselves to be humiliated. They are men who hate being looked down on. They live in an alternative world where honor rarely coincides with acquiescence." In other words, Hells Angels have not adopted the prevalent attitude of their 21st century peers ' that of being sensitive and emasculated males. Davis' argument is both cogent and persuasive when viewed from the perspective of historical context, which he presents with more than a measure of validity.
From there, Davis moves to the primary topic of his narration: the deliberate entrapment and railroading of Dave Burgess. Burgess was traveling with a group of Hells Angels from Nevada to the Hells Angels' annual national run, which was to occur in the Ozarks, in Eureka Springs. Burgess was not mounted on a motorcycle. He, with another member of the club, was making the trip in a motor home, which was the group's 'chase vehicle,' carrying spare parts, food, clothing, and auxiliary motorcycles on a trailer towed by the motor home.
When the motor home entered Wyoming, events began to unravel. The motor home was stopped by the Wyoming Highway Patrol and, for reasons that appear specious at best and trumped-up at worst, searched. The search discovered prohibited drugs. The drugs were not the property of Dave Burgess, but were in the vehicle he was driving. Burgess was arrested and everything in the motor home was confiscated, along with the impoundment of the motor home. One of the articles recovered from the motor home was Burgess' laptop computer.
At this point in the narrative, the term 'unravel' takes on a life of its own, evolving into a phantasmagoric nightmare of mind-boggling proportion, like something written by Edgar Allen Poe. After examination by forensic specialists, Burgess' computer revealed over 70,000 images of obscene child pornography, an inordinate number by any stretch of the imagination. In Burgess' defense, the author walks the reader through the various stages of the discovery and presentation of the evidence, including court documents. The conclusion Davis arrives at is beyond scary. It's downright horrifying. Davis suggests the pornographic images were deliberately inserted into Burgess' computer after it had been confiscated.
Burgess was framed.
Not only was Burgess framed, according to Davis, but he was the gratuitous victim of lies, innuendo, and inept forensic investigation. Davis reliably demonstrates that expert analysis would have revealed the pornographic images on the computer were introduced by a LEADTools software program. However, competent analysis never occurred.
The trial of Dave Burgess was a farce, a mockery of the concept of justice. No one was interested in pursuing the truth. Truth was fugitive to the proceedings. The goal was to incarcerate Dave Burgess, not to unearth the truth.
The result? Dave Burgess was convicted and sentenced to fifteen years in prison. Of course, Burgess appealed. But each appeal was vacated perfunctorily.
The Framing of Dave Burgess
is a chilling tale of the whimsical nature of the justice system. In the end, readers will have to make their own decision about the guilt of Dave Burgess. Davis has written a damning indictment of a criminal justice system gone mad, beset by venality and a complete disregard for integrity.
Is this book worth purchasing? Yes, decidedly so.