Thursday, May 21, 2015

Review: DUE DILIGENCE by Owen Parr

FICTION OR NON FICTION?
Based on true events.
This fictional novel will leave you wondering.
DUE DILIGENCE is a fast paced romantic thriller. It will take you on a journey full of intrigue, double crosses, corporate takeovers, money laundering, assassinations and a sinful love affair. Let your imagination wander as you witness the Cuban government's attempt to launder their illicit gains of over forty years utilizing our own Wall Street.
Owen has written a unique fictional novel, incorporating his over 27 years with Wall Street companies. Born in Havana, Cuba and later growing up in Miami during the drug-war years, he has woven a tale that will leave you breathless. His creativity and first hand experiences make this a fast paced riveting suspense-filled thriller.
You'll ask: could this really happen?






Reviewed by: Malin
Rating: 2 stars

 
Review: This is the story of Alex and Julia, two Cubans that happen to cross paths in Paris; however, this is not your typical love story. Set against the backdrop of Cuba's social politics and vibrant landscapes, Due Diligence is a tale of corruption and power. Through the eyes of Fidel Castro, a crucial character in the plot, readers are introduced to an enriching history of Cuba and a ploy to commandeer a government.

It would seem that there is conspiracy lurking in the shadows, and somehow Alex and Julia are tossed in the mix. Alex is this hard-core, CIA militant with a boxer's build and Julia is a descendant of the 1st president of Cuba. Although they are two vital pieces in this convoluted chess match, they somehow created a sparkling chemistry, adding a strong romantic element to this covert thriller.

For the most part, this was a well-written and exquisitely crafted story, but, personally, I'm not big on politics, so some of the details were a bit daunting and complex. I find that this would be better suited for those who are into army-style and political co-ops.  



Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Q&A with Owen Parr



Owen Parr has written a unique fictional novel. Utilizing his experiences of over a quater of a century working for Wall Street firms. Born in Havana, Cuba and later growing up in Miami through the 'drug war' years, he has woven a tale incorporating his first hand experiences and creativity into a fast paced riveting suspense-filled story.

Published author of articles in trade magazines. Hobby painter of acrylics on canvasses and middle of the road golfer, Owen spends his day still employed in the financial advice industry.

Newly married at the age of nineteen he pursued a career in electrical engineering until boredom set in. From there he went to own and operate his own multi-branch real estate firm and licensing school until the years of 21% prime interest rates circa 1980's.

Since 1986 he has been employed in the financial advice industry. During this time he has written articles for the local paper, political ramblings for his blog and screenplays that he is now converting into fictional novels.

Still married to his high-school sweetheart, he is often heard asking for a 'table for ten' to accomodate his two lovely daughters, four grandchildren and yes, the son-in-laws.





  1. What inspired you to write Due Diligence?

It started as a screenplay I wrote in the 1990’s.  My intent was to write a love story, but felt I needed a vehicle with multiple plots to create more of complex story.  Rumors have always swirled that Castro had bought business in Miami and around the world to hide his elicit gains.  Being in the investment banking business myself, I was told by one of my clients that another of my clients was a Castro owned business, which of course it was not.  However, the seed was planted for the main plot to develop the story.

 

  1. How would you describe the relationship between Alex and Julia?

We are supposed to have one true soul mate.  Alex and Julia have found each other.  However, both are married to other spouses and thus must either ignore the impulse or succumb to the temptation.  If theirs is true love and is wrong, then is their marriage to others right?

 

  1. In what way did you want to portray Cuba?

Cuba before the Castro revolution was known as the “Jewel of the Caribbean” with abundant natural resources and riches.  After the communist take over of the island, only the elite party members and those in the circle of power enjoy the riches.  The citizenry has become totally dependent of the government for its poop existence.  Cuba became an “outlaw country” exporting communist revolution to Latin America and involving itself in criminal activities.

 

  1. Were there any historical facts that you acquired for this book? If so, what?

In the book I cite historical accounts of the first elected president of Cuba after the Spanish-American War when Cuba became an independent country in the early 1900’s.  The same president who lower tariffs for American goods, so imports from the U.S. could benefit the island and its people.  In the news today we hear a lot about GITMO, or the U.S. military base in Guantanamo, Cuba.  Again, the first president of Cuba negotiated that agreement.  My main fictional character, Julia, is the great-great granddaughter of the first president of Cuba.

 

  1. What was the hardest part about writing this book?

Developing a discipline to write everyday.  I had the story well outlined as a result of having written the screenplay, although I made quite a few changes from the original screenplay to the actual published book.

 

  1. What do you hope readers will gain from your book?

I want readers to feel the love between Alex and Julia.  At the same time, I want them to follow the complex plots I developed and be entertained.  Most of my chapters end in a cliff-hanger making this a page-turner.  Readers will also gain an insight into what it takes for a private company to go public on Wall Street and at the same time enjoy the many Cuban culture references in the story.

 

  1. What do you like best and what do you like least about being a writer?

I read somewhere, that writing and publishing a book is similar to undressing in front of your closest 300 friends.  I have certainly felt and feel that way every time someone I know purchases a book.  However, the satisfaction of actually completing the book, your creation in print, is extremely gratifying.  When characters talk to authors, as mine do, and you are able to convert their story on paper and tie it all in plots and sub-plots is exhilarating.

 

  1. Who are some of your favorite authors? 

I like storytellers like Hemingway.  Historical biographers are one my favorites authors no matter whom.  In the fiction genre I read a lot Clancy, Thor, Dan Brown.

 

 

  1. Are you working on anything right now?

Working on a sequel to Due Diligence called “I’m Coming For You”.  Another fictional story involving corporate espionage and of course, a romantic tone.

 

  1. If your book would be turned into a movie, who would you imagine playing the part of Alex and Julia? (Actors can be ANYONE, living or dead.)

Easy question.  Since I originally wrote the screenplay, I found it convenient to write to a character.  Alex my main male protagonist is Andy Garcia.  Julia my main female protagonist is Michelle Pfeiffer.  My main male antagonist in the book is Rick Ramirez who when I wrote the screenplay I wrote for Armand Asante. 

 

  1. And, finally, what do you think is in store for the future of Latino literature?
I think as the Latino population of the U.S. begins grow, we should see more and more literature geared towards their interests.  Further, I see more and more Latino writers influencing the American audience with their own brand of literature.  A win-win for both.



To learn more about Owen Parr, visit http://www.owenparr.net/

Up next: A review of Due Diligence


Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Review: MISPLACED by S.L. Hulen

Misplaced takes a glimmer of historical fact and weaves a story of conviction, unlikely friendships and mysterious forces at work in the Land of Enchantment. What are misgivings of a young woman compared to the needs of the greatest nation of the ancient world? Khara’s life has been spent preparing for the day when she will become Egypt’s first ruling woman. A dutiful daughter, she embraces a future already written in stone. Until the day of her coronation, when her father is brutally murdered, plunging the House of Pharaoh into what history will come to know as “70 rulers in 70 days.” To save her life, she is unwittingly thrust into the future where she lands in the Mal Pais of the American Southwest. Confused and alone, she crosses the Mexican border illegally where she is rescued by Victoria Barron, a well-meaning if not emotionally misplaced immigration attorney. Together they must outmaneuver the artifact smuggler bent on keeping Khara, the find of a lifetime in the present for his own gain. Can they find a way to return Khara to the past to claim her destiny? What happens to history as we know it if they fail?  



Reviewed by: Celia
Rating: 2.5 stars

 
Review: This story begins with Khara, an Egyptian princess destined to take the throne. Before her coronation, her father is brutally murdered. That along with tension and jealousy of a rival sibling gives the story a rather Shakespearean undertone that is both melancholy and theatric.

Suddenly, Khara is on a fierce run for her life and is inexplicably leapfrogged into another body hundreds of years into the future. I still don’t get how she was able to do that. At least we knew it was the Delorean that sent Marty McFly to the future.

We fast-forward somewhere to present-day Texas, to a lost, confused, little girl, who is supposed to be Khara, but this isn’t very clear to the reader at first.

A typical time-travel story blended with historical fiction, Misplaced follows the adventures of a young princess fighting for both her life and the fate of her future. Story seems to be cloaked in a suspenseful mystery that I failed to recognize on account of a slow and uninspiring start followed by an exquisitely convoluted plot. Having read and enjoyed other time-travel stories in the past, I anticipated to enjoy this novel, but, sadly, that wasn’t the case for me. I do, however, see a potential readership for this type of work.




Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Q&A with S.L. Hulen



S.L. Hulen was born to an American aerospace engineer and a Mexican beauty who met in the flower shop of the famed Hotel Sylvia’s in Ciudad Juarez. The rich history and mysterious locations of the southwest serve as the setting for her first novel, Misplaced.
She presently lives with her husband in Phoenix where the flavors, traditions, and soul of the southwest continue to inspire her.






1.        What inspired you to write MISPLACED?
It’s a story I’ve had in my head for more than twenty years now.  Over time, a few details have changed, but like many authors I’ve spoken to, the initial idea for the story came to me in a dream.

 

2.        How would you describe the relationship between Menefra and Khara?
Since they’re twins, they’re closer than most siblings, but as they grow into adults, the underlying tension of having their futures chosen for them begins to tear them apart. Khara, the oldest, feels the burden of her position and envies Menefra’s freedom.  Menefra feels unimportant next to her accomplished sister; this fuels the jealousy that eventually rips them apart. 

 

3.        How was Khara able to use Victoria as her vessel and why?
In Victoria, Khara sees a fiercely independent woman, yet at the same time, one who puts the needs of others above her own.  Khara initially uses Victoria’s generosity to navigate the modern world but very quickly, she engages her as a sounding board, particularly regarding moral issues.

 

4.       How would you say Victoria and Khara evolved in this story?
I chose the name “Misplaced” because in the beginning of the story, Khara is physically misplaced in time but extremely clear about who she is and the role she must fill.  Victoria on the other hand, knows exactly where she is, but is emotionally misplaced.  My story goal was to show their individual journeys towards discovery.

 

5.       What are some of the most important lessons that Victoria and Khara learned in their journey?
Victoria’s most important lesson was to learn to trust, she’s done everything on her own for so long that it doesn’t come easily to her.  For Khara, this time away from Egypt gave her time to explore her beliefs and for the first time, she makes a few daring choices of her own.

 

6.       What was the hardest part about writing this book?
Because I’ve thought about it so much, writing the story was the easiest part. I’d have to say that editing was hard for me.  It’s hard to give up those details that had become so important, even when I realized they didn’t actually help the story line.  During most of the writing of this book I had one and sometimes two full-time jobs, which left little time for writing.  

 

7.        What do you hope readers will gain from your book?
My goal was to not to fill in every gap, but to leave enough unanswered questions to keep readers pondering the possible historical consequences of such an event. 

 

8.        What do you like best and what do you like least about being a writer?
Best is easy, I love seeing the characters and their experiences come to life.  What did I like least?  I would have to say that when you undertake a story, you put much of your life on hold.  I am rather a work first and play later sort of person, so I always felt like I had this huge project that I had to be chipping away at all the time.  It was wonderful to finally say, “I’m finished!”

 

9.       Are you working on anything right now?
I’ve started my next novel.  I think Victoria needs another adventure, and this one will take her deep into Mexico, in search of her family’s history.  She isn’t going to like what she finds….

 

10.     If your book would be turned into a movie, who would you imagine playing the part of Khara?
I think Zoe Saldana would make a beautiful Khara.  She has a certain seriousness and feline grace about her that I think fits Khara perfectly.  She’ also so exotic looking, and slight, just like Khara. 

 

11.     And finally, what do you think is in store for the future of Latino literature?
That’s a fantastic question, especially when you consider that there are roughly 40 million Latino readers in this country.  I hope to see more books that target this significant market.  Misplaced will be translated into Spanish, many other authors are doing the same. 

I believe it is our responsibility as writers to chronicle the time in which we live, in my case it happens to be during this wonderful emergency of Latinos appreciating their roots, even as we strive to become model U.S. citizens.  My mother was born in Mexico, I grew up a half-mile from the border and I couldn’t be prouder.

UP NEXT: A review of Misplaced.


Monday, April 20, 2015

Review: AN IMMIGRANT AMERICAN HERO by Mary De La Peña

An Immigrant American Hero is the story of Patricio (Tico) de la Fuente, a Mexican immigrant who came to this country during World War II when he was only six years old. Leaving behind a life of wealth, nannies and mayor domos in the mining towns in Chihuahua, Mexico, Tico and his family moved into a garage in East Los Angeles. Accepting their new life of reduced circumstances, Tico's parents never gave into the idea that their sons were not meant to succeed in life. They insisted that Tico and his brother, Chacho, focus on their education and remain faithful to God and the Catholic Church. It was his faith in God, and strong family values that inspired him throughout his life, so that no matter what the circumstance, this American immigrant hero faced his life with humility, bravery, and laughter.

An Immigrant American Hero is a modern literary novel inspired by the stories of very real extraordinary immigrant men. Where the book American Me told the East Los Angeles story of immigrants becoming the gangsters of Mi Familia, (the Mexican Mafia), An Immigrant American Hero is but one story of the heroes coming from the same community.




Reviewed by: Sandra
Rating: 4 stars

 
Review: After some time living in Mexican foster home, 8-year old Tico finally embarks on his journey to California to be reunited with his family. Though it hasn't been easy to keep the tears at bay, Tico made every effort to be the "brave young man," which enabled him to be kind, respectful, and humble--attributes that would be fruitful in his next life.

Of course, no path is without its rocky roads.

"Mexicans were tolerated when they were quiet and made no noise while doing their assigned tasks. Americans did not tolerate foreigners who made too much noise or spoke a different language or tried to change what had always been." (35)

"[Tico] had been proud to be from Mexico. Yet, all around him, the word “Mexican” was linked to thieves and hoodlums—people not worthy of trust." (45)

"He learned from his father’s example: though he walked with crutches, then a cane, laughter and joy could still be found in hard work." (47)

Well-written and captivating, An Immigrant American Hero is a coming-of-age story of a courageous and bright boy that surpasses all obstacles while navigating through the prejudice and politics of 1950's Los Angeles . Readers will be entranced by his extraordinary development and his unyielding faith. Being "an outsider" never stopped our aspiring young hero, which led him to the Navy reserves in the battlefield of an American war.

Perhaps his one downfall was his fierce dedication, especially to that selfish and unstable wife of his; sometimes that dedication can be a fatal flaw. Nonetheless, Tico is an admirable character. Even the cumbersome layer of militia protocols and lawyer jargon does not diminish the quality of this work.

A worthy and comprehensive read that vividly portrays the blissful struggles of the Immigrant American hero.





Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Q&A with Mary de la Peña


Mary de la Peña is a native southern Californian-- born in Pasadena but raised in the spirit of Old California's Mexican heritage. Spanish is her second language, but her first love, having learned it from second grade through college, where she was imbued with the culture and mores of the Mexican people.

It was the cacophony of voices demonizing an otherwise hard-working and gentle people that made the author seek out and write about the quiet immigrant heroes who surround us but are never identified. Thus, An Immigrant American Hero is but one of the many stories of immigrants who came to this country and made it strong with their blood, their seat, and their fortitude.

Mary de la Peña is a practicing criminal defense lawyer in the Inland Empire area of Southern California and married to her law partner/ husband. For more information, visit
http://www.marydelapena-author.com/






1.       What inspired you to write AN IMMIGRANT AMERICAN HERO?

I was at my first writers’ retreat in Sedona, Arizona, and the leader of the group asked us to picture the person who has most supported me in my endeavor to become an author. I pictured my husband’s face, and the story flowed from that image as fast as a river runs after a snow melt. This book is, in essence, a fictionalized version of my husband’s and his family’s story.

 

2.       How would you describe Tico and how would you say he evolved in this story?

Tico, because he came to this country as a lost little boy at an orphanage, always had the need to be accepted. He wanted to “fit in,” and he did so by working hard at whatever task he took on as his own. At his core was the desire to live up to his perceived duties so that he could be accepted and ultimately loved. Within that core were values that he stayed true to, including family, honor, duty, and God.

His evolution came through always seeing the inequities and trying to solve them or make them better, all the while staying true to his core values. It was only later in life that he learned that honor and love can also be received.

 

3.       What were some of the most important lessons that Tico learned in his journey?

I believe the hardest lesson he learned was that outsiders (perceived outsiders) must work harder to be accepted than those to whom status has already been bestowed. However, humility and hard work, while understanding the needs of others and tending to them, can also win acceptance. (Ex: Tico understanding outsiders at East LA College and running as an outsider; Tico helping officer recruits tend their uniforms; Tico commandeering a fuel tanker plane for his men to refuel their jets; Tico leading a strike force to save Marines putting their safety ahead of his career; Tico tending to a very mentally ill wife for years; and Tico tending to immigrant clients.)

It was only when he finally let someone in to love him—someone who truly loved him— could he find love for himself, finally learning that he was worthy of love.

 

4.       How would you define "Immigrant American Hero" and do you think Tico achieved that title in the end?

An Immigrant American Hero represents all the immigrants who have the courage to come to this country, leaving behind all that they know, in an effort to find a better life. It is their sacrifice and endurance that has made this country strong, making them everyday heroes. 

As for the fictional character, Tico, he is very much inspired by my husband’s life. Because of that, I can truly attest to the fact he is a hero in every respect. Not only is he a “hero,” as defined through military service and honors, but he is an everyday hero to his clients and to his family.

Federico de la Peña, an immigrant from Mexico at the age of seven, has risen to the top of his careers, achieving honors and recognitions that in his humility is embarrassed to admit. 

For instance, as a criminal defense attorney, he was the first Spanish-speaking attorney in California’s Inland Empire to be recognized by the American Bar Association as one of the top 100 trial attorneys in the United States. He achieved that status by working hard every day for his clients, getting up to go to court, then staying late at the office, only to go to the jails late at night to comfort those clients who had been incarcerated. He is a well-practiced and well-respected criminal defense attorney who is also fluent in Spanish. He is consistently recognized by Martindale/Hubbel with a consistent A/V rating for more than 25 consecutive years, being recognized for his ethics and legal knowledge. He is also recognized as one of the top criminal defense attorneys in the Inland Empire by Inland Empire Magazine and Lexis/Nexis. These honors do not come lightly—only come to those who are honored by judges and opposing counsel.

He is also a hero to me, his wife and law partner. This man gets up every day and goes to work, though he is 77 years old! His work is his life, though he suffers from lingering issues from his years as a fighter pilot for the United States Navy. His back is crippled with arthritis and nerve damage, yet he does not let that stop him. His mission is to bring humility, strength, and justice to the courtroom on behalf of his clients. Yet, he is also a loving and attentive husband to me, his wife of almost 25 years, and my law partner for 26. How many women can truly say their husband is their hero?

The integrity and ethics of this man all relate back to the strong family values instilled in him by his Mexican family—hard work, family, education, and God.

 

5.       What was the hardest part about writing this book?

The hardest part of writing this book was getting my husband to accept his status as a hero. That, and the determination from a legal standpoint to make it “fiction.” The rest was easy. The actual writing of the book took me 4 ½ days! Getting my husband to read the book and “okay” it took six months.

 

6.       What do you hope readers will gain from your book?

It is my sincere desire that those who read the book will understand that heroes are those people who chose to do the right thing on a consistent basis. Also, in this day of demonizing immigrants from Mexico and other Latin American countries, that those who read the book learn that our immigrants have much to contribute to the United States. I also hope that second- and third-generation immigrant readers will gain an understanding of the sacrifices made by their parents and grandparents, who came to this country to make a better life for their families.

However, the most important lesson from the book is that education and hard work are the keys to success and acceptance. Also, no matter what the circumstances of a family, if it is impressed upon the children that they must stay in school, and that they must work hard, the children will learn the building blocks to having a successful career.

Lastly, I hope that my readers learn that honor is sometimes very hard. Staying with a commitment can be difficult. But, it is that very commitment to family, country, profession that makes a hero.

 

7.      What do you like best and what do you like least about being a writer?

Writing for me is like flying: it sets me free from my everyday life. When a story is unfolding I am transported to another time and place. I can see, hear, feel, and live through my characters. As a criminal defense attorney, my work for my clients can be daunting with reluctant judges, difficult opposing counsel, and needy clients. But when I write, I have control—well, sometimes my characters take on a life of their own, but at least I have the illusion of control.

What I like least is the heavy lifting of marketing. I love book signings and interaction with other writers, but the social media parts of marketing can be intrusive because they need constant tending. That is what splits me in two. Writing I can do in my downtime from the practice of law. Marketing is constant yuck!

 

8.       Who are some of your favorite authors?

Walter Farley when I was as a child. One of my more recent titles, as yet unpublished, is an homage to him; Velvet Blue Dancer is the story of boy who rescues a horse and learns that heroes do not need superhuman powers to be a hero.

As an adult, definitely Sue Grafton! It was one of her books that I read while on a long weekend in Santa Barbara, California, that inspired me to dare to write. I read her Kinsey Milhoune and thought, I can do that! From there, I started writing mysteries, at least four of which are in various stages of neglect, having never been finished. But, that is what started me on the journey. I took writing classes, and began writing in earnest a few years later, all while reading and paying attention to other authors and how they manage their characters.

I love John Sanford; J. A. Jance; Patterson’s early work; Baldacci; and Brian Haig. For a change of pace I like Stephen King’s early works, and Dean Koonz. More recently I have discovered Steve Martini, as he does a really good job of describing criminal defense work. I enjoy John Grisham, but he writes about civil attorneys—a world I don’t really know.

Influential authors are Michael Connelly—he spoke to one of my writing classes at Cal State—Fullerton before he became a huge success. I must admit he doesn’t really get a criminal defense attorney quite right in his Lincoln Lawyers series, but I like the rest of his work. His motto: “Keep writing!”

My tone in my recent fiction work under my “mystery writer” name, M. J. Hatch, in the Murder Most… series is heavily influenced by Janet Evanovich, Carl Hiaasen, and Elmore Leonard. I like finely crafted characters that are surrounded by “crazies.”

In all seriousness, the author that had the most influence on me is Tony Hillerman. He got the tone and texture of his characters’ speech patterns perfectly. Thus, it is critical to me to make sure my characters’ dialogues are truly reflective of who they are as people.

 

9.       Are you working on anything right now?

I just finished the third of the Detective Jake Swanson mysteries, Murder Most Merry, and am currently working with Thomas Hill to do a second edition of A Layman’s Guide to Criminal Defense. After we finish the second edition of that book, my husband and I will work on “A Layman’s Guide to Criminal Jury Trials and Other Proceedings.

I am also working on two other books and new characters. However, in transitioning from one computer network to another, I seem to have lost the outline to one of the books. I can tell from the first 128 pages the plot is very complex—too complex to write without an outline! Hopefully it will come to me again.

Speaking of mysteries, famed actor Robert Wagner loves the Murder Most… series, and especially the lead character’s partner, Melissa Sanchez. Wagner loves it so much we are working to get funding to develop a TV series based on the character. I also love Melissa—she is dedicated, hardworking, straight shooting, and the perfect foil for the more laid-back surfer dude lead character, Jake Swanson.

 

10.   If your book would be turned into a movie, who would you imagine playing the part of Tico? (Actor can be ANYONE, living or dead.)

Actually, I see the movie more as an anime-type movie. There are some great artists in Mexico that would do a fine job of bringing the movie to life as an animated picture. If I ever get a script, a friend of mine wants to take it directly to the head of Universal Studios for production and distribution.

 

 

11.   And, finally, what do you think is in store for the future of Latino literature?

The Latino culture is strong in Southern California, thus stories that incorporate the people as fully formed characters will by necessity rise in popularity. Someday, hopefully soon, publishers will recognize that books like An Immigrant American Hero resonate with a wide swath of readers. With that realization I am sure more young writers of Latino descent will write and see their books in print.

My husband is proud of his Mexican heritage and believes there is a strong artistic culture within its people. It is my sincere hope and belief that this will come to the forefront and more people will see the beauty in the Latino culture of family, home, and faith.

 
Up Next: A review of An Immigrant American Hero
 
 

Friday, April 10, 2015

Review: THE LAST PACHUCO by Tony Levario

THE LAST PACHUCO is the story of two men’s quest to find a serial killer in their midst. In 1985 there were over 800 murders in Los Angeles County. Both the LAPD and the Sheriff’s Department were overwhelmed by the significant increase in gang and drug related violence. A serial murderer in their midst was not unique, both departments had worked together to solve the Hillside Strangler murders. The newest string of prostitute murders were unnoticed at first and then given a second-class status even as the two men search for answers. One man, DETECTIVE FRANK ORTEGA, is responding to the requirements of his position as a Sergeant in the Los County Sheriff’s Department’s Homicide Bureau and his desire to find justice for the victims. The other man, JOEY “CHUCO” LOPEZ, is trying to find his way in life after being paroled from state prison. His driving force was to respond to the request of his best friend, BIG HOMIE CABRAL, to stop the killings of his girls and find the KILLER. The first prostitute murder goes almost unnoticed by police. The following prostitute murders are obscured by a greater threat to the Los Angeles public – the NIGHT STALKER serial murders. The Night Stalker murders began in earnest on March, 17, 1985. The prostitute killings began shortly thereafter. Both ORTEGA and CHUCO recognize that the prostitutes being targeted are connected to BIG HOMIE CABRAL’S criminal organization. BIG HOMIE is the shot-calling, drug dealing killer currently housed in Soledad State Prison. The KILLER leaves very few clues, other than his Method of Operation and the area he operates within, exclusively the East Los Angeles area of the county. ORTEGA attempts to separate the prostitute killings from the ever-growing NIGHT STALKER murders. He is rebuffed, detoured and delayed by his supervisor and the prostitute murders are lumped in with the NIGHT STALKER killing pattern. The killings become so intense and terrifying for the public that the outcry for safety demands that a NIGHT STALKER TASKFORCE is created. CHUCO’S investigation continues, even as he comes to grips with the death of his adopted Jewish father. After his release he sets in motion his conversion to Judaism, the last request of his father. He begins to track down leads in the prostitute murders, clues that lead in only one direction, that the KILLER is a law enforcement officer. He later finds that his connection to the KILLER is more personal, involving the murder of Chuco’s father many years before. That murder occurred when Chuco was 12 years old and sent his life in a direction he never thought possible. The KILLER selects his victims exclusively from a stable of a shot-caller gang member from Big Hazard gang. CHUCO’S investigation reveals the relationship between the KILLER and BIG HOMIE, connections that disclose a violent past on the part of the KILLER and BIG HOMIE. As the NIGHT STALKER murders come to a conclusion and he is identified and captured ORTEGA and CHUCO begin to identify a different suspect in the prostitute murder. ORTEGA’S investigation into official police files divulges a connection between the KILLER and a murder that occurred in 1967, 18 years prior to the prostitute murders. It was ORTEGA’S first murder investigation, the murder of CHUCO’S father. That murder has remained unsolved for 18 years. ORTEGA and CHUCO both come to the realization that the murderer is possibly law enforcement related. They set up a plan and attempt to bait the KILLER into identifying himself without exposing other women to danger. Their attempt works, to a point, it draws out a killer, just not the KILLER they thought. Both of them are unsatisfied with the resolution of the case. They both believe the KILLER has not been identified and justice has not been done for the victims.




Reviewed by: Celia
Rating: 2.5 stars


Review: "It was though that the pairing of two Spanish-speaking detectives in the street gang capital of Los Angeles would stem the tide of violence and increase the ever important solve rate." (11)

The scene opens up to Frank Ortega and Beno Gutierrez arriving on the case of a dead gangster. Both have strict knowledge of police protocol, natural instincts, and a soft spot for their Latino heritage. You have to admire their fierce dedication to the cases.

Oddly, the story leaps to different locations and time periods, sometimes showcasing unknown characters and irrelevant data. I often found myself wondering the who, the what, and the where. I think there were just too many characters.

Homicide investigations play a crucial and heavy role throughout the book, which can be weary to the reader. You pretty much would need to think like a detective to truly get it as the procedures and terminology can be a challenge.

Of course, the hunt for this serial killer was the needle in this cluttered hay stack. And with the help of Chuco, a gang member recently released from prison, the story takes on an intriguing twist, igniting a light at the end of this long and dark tunnel. Only those capable enough to withstand the convoluted plotting, the extensive theatrics, and the nebulous street slang will reach the diamond in the rough.