Hell's Witness


360 pages
ISBN 0-670-04430-X
DDC 364.1'092




Reviewed by Geoff Hamilton

Geoff Hamilton is a Killam Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of
British Columbia.


Sanger explores here the life of Dany Kane (1968–2000), a member of
the Hells Angels and a secret informant for the RCMP and Sыreté du
Québec. The book covers the Quebec biker wars of the 1990s in detail,
and its narrative culminates in Kane’s death by apparent suicide and
the roundup shortly thereafter of more than 100 gang members.

This is a well-researched and astute examination of the milieu in which
Kane lived, and it stands as an important contribution to the growing
literature on Canada’s biker gangs. Sanger provides a luridly distinct
portrait of his subject’s gangster ambitions, conflicted sexuality,
and ambivalent role as a police informant, and his insights into the
dynamics of the struggle between law enforcement and organized crime are
first-rate. The incompetence of the RCMP in their handling of Kane and
the inability of the courts to handle the threat posed by biker gangs
are made very clear: “Quebec spends less per capita on its justice
system than any other province, and its prosecutors have long laboured
under the consequences of this parsimony, forced to make do without
computers, basic reference books, or adequate support staff.”

Sanger’s examination of the suspicious circumstances of Kane’s
death offers new and critical insights, though the author is finally
unable to make a compelling case for any specific cause other than
suicide. In spite of what Sanger provides in character analysis, much of
Kane’s life and motivations evade satisfying explanation, and the
author’s subject remains, rather disappointingly, elusive to the end.
The gaps in our understanding of Kane’s complex and shifting
motivations—which cannot be filled by any conventional
journalist—suggest, perhaps, the need for a treatment of Kane’s life
in some kind of fictional form.


Sanger, Daniel., “Hell's Witness,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed May 29, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/16584.