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.

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