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3.83  ·  Rating details ·  369 ratings  ·  63 reviews
"Set in LA against the backdrop of the 2008 financial crash, this is the story of Rudy Reyes (a.k.a. Glasses), a gangster-turned-double-agent who wants out of the high-stakes high-risk criminal life, and Ricky Mendoza, Junior (a.k.a. Ghost), a DEA safe-cracker with terminal cancer who’s got nothing to lose. When Ghost goes rogue and steals thousands of dollars from a safe ...more
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published August 1st 2017 by MCD
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3.83  · 
Rating details
 ·  369 ratings  ·  63 reviews

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Jeffrey Keeten
Oct 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: hardboiled, gangsters
“Ricky Mendoza, Junior, wasn’t my real name, just one I took as my legal back when it seemed smart to. Like, the real me died back when I changed it and what’s left of me just floats.”

Everybody calls him Ghost.

Sometimes a man has to move on from a name and start over. A new name is like shedding your skin. It is a chance to redeem and be someone closer to whom you wanted to be before things went sideways.

Ghost is an addict who doesn’t use.

A man takes a chance on him, teaches him how to crack sa
Aug 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime-thrillers
Safe – A Modern Day Robin Hood

Safe is the latest book from Ryan Gattis, set over 48 hours with a backdrop of the dark underbelly of Los Angeles and its drugs gangs. Gattis uses two voices to narrate the story, in the form of Ricky “Ghost” Mendoza and Rudy “Glasses” Reyes with a punk rock mixed tape giving the story an old school vibe. This old school vibe can be seen as an American version of Robin Hood, with guns, drugs, money and cancer running central to the story.

Ghost is a reformed drug add
May 20, 2018 rated it really liked it

Visit the locations in the novel

Perhaps one of the grittiest and most raw novels I’ve read in a long while. I certainly felt that spending so much time with a reformed drug runner turned double agent left me feeling a good way. There’s plenty of drama here but good, raw honesty in the way the characters are portrayed and even down to how they speak and to each other in particular.

This is not the LA the tourist board would have you believe. It’s the mean streets of the drugs gangs
Sep 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is so so good. Punchy and yet touching it tells the story of a heist in LA that unfolds over 48 hours. It's the first time in a while I've brushed a tear from my face when reading. I also ❤ the playlists I got from Rose's mix at the beginning. This is going to be a HUGE film I reckon. ...more
Leilah Skelton
May 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Ryan Gattis’ All Involved was my favourite novel of 2015, so Safe had big boots to fill. That novel delivered like a gut-punch that kept me rocked back on my heels, and what impressed me most was his ability to connect me as a reader to his characters on a deeply human level. That a small-town Yorkshire girl can feel the motivations of LA's criminal class shows that Gattis digs at the very core of people. In Safe, he shows this skill again. Back in downtown LA, each of his characters is laced wi ...more
Michael Martz
Aug 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: best-of-year
'Safe' is stunningly good read, especially if you're into crime novels and don't have a problem with reading about violence. Ryan Gattis must specialize in this type of novel- 'All Involved' is likewise a gritty one with a bunch of really bad guy characters you'd avoid in real life but you can't stop reading about.

I'll try to avoid spoilers here..... Safe starts off as what seems to be a pretty standard 'heist' novel but gradually morphs into something both bigger and smaller. As in 'All Involve
Interesting read but, ultimately, I found this one unbelievable, a sentimental tale about Los Angeles gang and drug related criminal activity and the tragedy of an honorable thief. The plot is a stretch and the whole story seems overly romanticized considering the grim reality of the subject matter.
Michael Lee
Mar 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Loved the energy in this book. It's perfect for a movie. A very fast, engaging read.
Renee (itsbooktalk)
Aug 04, 2017 rated it liked it
3.5 stars you can find all my reviews at

For some reason I'm finding this book hard to review. On the one hand, there is so much I liked about it and up until about 60%, I felt it was ticking along quite nicely. I loved that it started off with a safecracking scene and felt that until that point I was really invested in the story. After that, however,  it started to slip for me and by the end I feel like I had disconnected from the story just a little which is very strange con
Scott Cumming
Mar 01, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ryan Gattis became one of those years-in-the-making overnight successes with his novel All Involved, where Gattis tells us the stories of people involved directly or indirectly with the 1992 L.A. Riots. Safe is his follow up to this and it suffers from an identity problem I feel as the quotes on the front of the book seem to be tauting this as a hard and fast heist novel when it is something much more patient, inward and even tender than that.

Safe switches between the characters of Ricky Mendoza
Jun 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: crime
It's quite difficult to go into any plot details without giving too much away, so I shall just skim over this. Ghost is a safecracker, working for the LAPD and FBI, a recovering addict who is about to dip into the drug money from his latest job. His motive is more akin to that of Robin Hood than that of a regular thief, and as his story is revealed we have great sympathy with him. Glasses is a member of the gang that Ghost is about to rip off. His narrative is set up as an alternative take on th ...more
Ross Cumming
Aug 08, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I thoroughly enjoyed Ryan Gattis's previous novel 'All Involved' and quite by accident found out that he had a new novel published and I knew I just had to read it sooner, rather than later.
Ricky Mendoza aka 'Ghost' is a reformed drug addict and gangbanger and is now working as a safe breaker for the D.E.A., cracking safes that are found on drug busts that they can't open. Although reformed, Ricky still likes to take from the safes, especially cash, which he ferrets away before the contents of t
Luke Johnson
Mar 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Without a doubt, Ryan Gattis' All Involved is one of my Top 10 Favorite Books. So when I saw this one, and that he was taking us back to LA I was more than a little giddy. It's hard not to talk about this book in comparison, as unfair as that is, but I'll probably end up doing it anyway. Though I didn't care for this one quite as much as All Involved, this is still a stellar and deeply moving piece of fiction from an incredible storyteller.

I think it's the element of introspection that I love so
Glen U
Sep 28, 2017 rated it liked it
Rough and gritty. A compelling look at the street gangs of L.A., the DEA and the drug trade through the eyes of a safe cracker. Unique in its telling, it is told by two main characters, all from a first person point of view. At times, the vernacular of the two protagonists gets a bit tiresome, but it does add realism to the story. For those familiar with the less desirable environs of L.A., this book will reacquaint you with them as the audience travels the mean streets of the Mexican gangs. The ...more
Stu Campbell
Aug 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Ryan Gattis is rapidly joining the pantheon of great novelist who write about the day to day life of Los Angeles. His last book, All Involved, was a deft masterwork that tells the story of the LA Riots from many different views on the ground....
His new novel, Safe, tells the story of Ghost, a former gang member gone straight who works as a safecracker for the DEA. He decides to steal a massive amount of money from a safe he opens (for completely altruistic reasons.....this takes place the weeken
Jun 29, 2017 rated it it was ok
2 star = it was ok by GoodRead's 5 star system. This is a neutral rating.

It started off ok for me but I got irritated by the first person staccato delivery. First person narratives aren't a deal killer for me but somehow the narrators feel like they are on something. In a way, it doesn't really matter how the author gets the story across but the protagonists aren't doing a good job of it. In one sense, you can say it's realistic because I really get a feel of the narrators but I just didn't like
Ryan Odom
Feb 14, 2018 rated it it was ok
I feel bad giving it two stars because I didn’t finish the book, but I tried. I read 50% of it, but it’s soooo ssssllloooowwww. It just drags without any action. The inside cover calls this book “a gritty, fast-paced thriller”. HA! It’s mildly interesting, but you keep hoping the story will pick up steam. And when it doesn’t, you feel like you’re getting the run-around as if the author is saying, “No more chapter” but that one more chapter doesn’t give you anything exciting eith ...more
Dan Downing
Sep 04, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Billed on the cover as a 'thrilling heist novel'in a blurb by Paula Hawkins, we start out as misled as we were by her best selling book. Michael Connelly gets closer to the truth in his blurb when he calls it finely layered and full of the grit of the streets. If we believe dust jacket blurbs after age 21, we are probably in love with the QVC channel, too.

What Ryan Gattis has given us is a noir story which reminds one of Andrew Vachss, for one. Gritty with little vulgarity and no sex scenes to s
May 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
I don't often take chances on new contemporary fiction these days, because 95% of it just pisses me off at this point, but I had loved "All Involved" when I read it a couple years ago, so when I came across a galley of a new one by Ryan Gattis, I scooped it up immediately. It shares some stylistic qualities and conceits with the former novel, but that's a good thing when an author can work that style so well. (The prior bounces around between a much larger cast of characters, however; "Safe" sim ...more
Lynn Keith
Aug 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Another Surprise

This is the second book in a row I have read that has been a complete surprise. You know it's great when you're having trouble reading the last fifty pages through tears. This was a thriller and a heist story, but it was also a story about the deeply personal struggles of two strong young men with serious problems. One is a safecracker who had survived cancer only to have it recur. The other is a mob under-boss with a damaged eye. The two men act in opposition to eachother. Their
Megan ♠︎ 읽어요 ♠︎ Michaels
I expected to love this after All Involved was the beat book I read in 2016, and love it I did.

This is a really gritty urban thriller which deals with harsh topics such as suicide, illness, drugs and gang crime. And it is fantastic. The characters that Gattis writes are not only interesting, but feel real and though the stories he writes
sometimes take "outlandish" twists actually, they seem very realistic in context - like this could be happening right now in Downtown L.A. and no one would b
Josh Saleska
Feb 02, 2018 rated it it was ok
I just could not get into this book. I think maybe it was the style of writing. Both protagonists seemed to have a depth to them, but they were unable to articulate well. I couldn't tell if the author intended this for authenticity, or if he himself has a limited writing ability. Each character's disposition felt forced or oversimplified.

The story became interesting 3/4 of the way through and piqued my interest, which carried me to the end of the book. I was satisfied at the end...because it was
Apr 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mystery, thriller
A recommendation from my independent bookseller. Fresh voice, fast paced and original -- thank you Ryan Gattis. The story follows two characters on a parallel path around today's organized drug trade. "Ghost" has a mix-tape from the girl who transformed his life and Gattis includes the playlist up front. Like the punk rock irreverent, angry, beat -- the story is propelled forward. And "Glasses" gains respect for this professional safe-cracker Ghost. The story is tight, playing with the idea of s ...more
Dec 03, 2017 rated it liked it
Not bad by any means, just not what I think I wanted (or wanted right now). Gattis keeps the novel zipping and renders the LA gang scene vividly - but I found it hard to really lock in with either Ghost or Glasses. It didn't help that Ghost was the far more complex, more deeply rendered character, to Glasses' detriment. Still, the cat-and-mouse plus the ultimate denouement were enough to keep me reading and I'm excited to get into Gattis' earlier work.
Katrina Evans
I thought this was okay, bordering on good but it's not in the same league as All Involved.

I liked the tight focus on the characters and the interweaving plot but overall it felt a little flat and dull - it lacked the spark and vigour that I loved about All Involved.

I'll be looking out for what Ryan writes next, hopefully, it'll be more like his first book than his second.
Vince Waechter
Dec 03, 2017 rated it it was ok
Very slow getting started. I almost gave up on it. Also very confusing. I was well into the book before I realized that we were following two different characters. 3/4 of the way into the book I finally understood what was going on and the story started to make sense. The basic story was very good but the way it was told ruined it. Giving this book fairly low marks.
Jun 10, 2018 rated it liked it
Loved “All Involved” + could not wait to read this book! While I loved the dialogue & authenticity of the descriptions of Los Angeles, I felt there were 5 too many scenes of Ghost in his car reminiscing about Rose.
Jul 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
i read "all involved" before i read "safe" and i expected a more action filled story. however, this is a complete different story and again Ryan Gattis did a great job depicting a totally different life from one's own.
May 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: arc
Loved this! Writing was great and really enjoyed how music was incorporated into the story. A fast paced read with a kick ass mix tape. Anyone looking for a thriller with realistic characters and a hint of punk rock should check this one out. Will be checking out more of Ryan's work for sure!
james harrell
Dec 02, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Really? 5 stars?

Everything is double speak... two characters written in the first person? How can that work? Disjointed, written in threads, nothing is in order, couldn't finish, didn't want to, extremely dissatisfied
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Ryan Gattis is the author of the upcoming SAFE (08/01 USA), ALL INVOLVED, KUNG FU HIGH SCHOOL, and ROO KICKKICK & THE BIG BAD BLIMP, as well as two novellas, THE BIG DROP: HOMECOMING and THE BIG DROP: IMPERMANENCE. His most recently published novel, ALL INVOLVED: A Novel of the 1992 L.A. Riots, is grounded in 2.5 years of research & background spent with former Latino gang members, firefig ...more
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