cover image El Gavilan

El Gavilan

Craig McDonald. Tyrus (F+W Media, dist.), $24.95 (400p) ISBN 978-1-4405-3191-0

As sobering and as urgent as tomorrow’s headlines, this searing novel by Edgar-finalist McDonald (Head Games) traces the struggle of the residents of fictional New Austin, Ohio, to cope with out-of-control illegal Latino immigrants. The town’s principled new police chief, Tell Lyon, a former Border Patrol sector chief whose wife and child recently died in a firebombing in the California borderlands, must contend with the brutal rape-murder of Thalia Ruiz, a young waitress and legal immigrant befriended by Horton County sheriff Able Hawk. Opposing Lyon and Hawk (gavilan in Spanish) are all-too-credible villains: Latino gangbangers, an unscrupulous journalist, and several crooked cops. Meanwhile, irresistible Patricia Maldonado, whose parents are “two of Horton County’s rare documented, naturalized Latinos,” provides Lyon steamy reasons to stay alive in this simmering cauldron of racial tensions and sadistic crimes. McDonald deftly balances his “now” against the “then” backstory as he dissects one of America’s most tormenting social problems. (Dec.)