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El Gavilan Hardcover – December 18, 2011
"As sobering and as urgent as tomorrow's headlines, this searing novel traces the struggle of the residents of fictional New Austin, Ohio, to cope with out-of-control illegal Latino immigrants. McDonald deftly balances his 'now' against the 'then' backstory as he dissects one of America's most tormenting social problems."
--Publisher's Weekly, starred review
Top Customer Reviews
El Gavilan tells the immigration story from several viewpoints, including a child crossing the harsh desert to the U.S. with her family and a former Border Patrol agent who lost his family to the war on immigration. Both were changed forever, but perhaps not in the way you might expect.
Sadly, this book reads more like a screenplay than a novel. You can't help but feel that you are being cheated as the story races along at breakneck speed, spinning by plot points as if checking them off a list. The story is good. The characters are good. I would have loved a little more time to explore them both. If that is not possible, perhaps the author will indulge us with a book featuring Cousin Chris?
My verdict: Read it! I would have liked a little more depth in parts, but all in all it is a good, engaging story.
New Austin is a fictional south central Ohio town that is roiling in the clash of cultures between Latinos and Anglos. Horton County Sheriff Able Hawk (Hawk is "gavilan" in Spanish) is a complex character who is Joe Arpaio -- the controversial sheriff of Maricopa County Arizona, the greater Phoenix area -- tough on gangs and illegal immigrants from Mexico and Central America. He blogs about illegal immigrants and sends bills to the federal government for reimbursement of expenses incurred when illegals are jailed. But the widowed Hawk is fiercely protective of the county's legal immigrants of Hispanic origin.
When Ohio native and former California based Border Patrol officer Tell Lyon arrives in New Austin as the city's newly appointed police chief, the two dance briefly around in a macho display but soon agree to cooperate in law enforcement in the county, if only because the corrupt sheriff in neighboring Vale County make cooperation mandatory. Tell got his name from a character, Tell Sackett, by Louis L'Amour, a writer his dad loved.
Lyon, a fluent Spanish speaker, quickly gains the trust of most of the county's Hispanic community, and is dubbed "El Leon" -- the lion. His Mexican-American California-born wife and their daughter were murdered by Mexican criminals and Lyon is still mourning their deaths in a house-firebombing when he meets lovely Patricia Maldonado, 15 years younger, ambitious for education and the daughter of the couple, Kathleen and Augustin, who run the county's best Mexican restaurant.Read more ›
Reading this book is like watching an Ed Wood movie. And believe me, I mean no disrespect either to Ed Wood or the author in saying that. Just finding all the errors becomes an obsession in and of itself. Seriously, get a group of friends together and see who can find the most errors.
The Hispanic women who are depicted here are all described as sexual objects. And the male characters pretty much look at them as such. And for men that want to imagine a fantasy world where any woman will be an easy conquest, this book will fill that need.
The character names also provide a certain amount of amusement. Able Hawk? Tell Lyon? Give me a break. I am just glad that the author's Hispanic characters are too stereotypical to have been given very creative names.
The funniest part of the story line is that Able and Tell seem to be so in sync in terms of anticipating everything they should do to move the case forward. And yet they fail to even identify the most obvious suspect when it's staring them in the face.Read more ›
Abel Hawk, the most senior of the three lawmen and sheriff of Horton County, is a hard-line enforcer with respect to the illegals in his town. He blogs about illegal immigration and bills the federal government for the expense of jailing undocumented individuals whom he has arrested. Yet, he is extremely protective of the Latinos in his community who are legal. Tell Lyon, a former Border Patrol officer, lost his family to a violent drug lord's revenge; in an attempt to put the past behind him, he has come to New Austin as police chief. Walt Pierce, Vale County sheriff and the third lawman, is a vicious and territorial individual. The rape and murder of Thalia Gomez Ruiz, whom Abel knows and respects, precipitates the events that will eventually ensnare all three lawmen, their families, and their communities.
Alternating between "Then" and the current setting, "El Gavilan" was best in those portions addressing Thalia's journey to the United States. The hardships of crossing the border illegally are well written and evoke sympathy for the Gomez family. This is when Craig McDonald's writing is at its best. The mystery surrounding Thalia's murder is, for the reader, resolved early in the novel.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The basic core of this story could've appeared on the front page of so many newspapers throughout the country. Read morePublished on January 16, 2013 by Michael Griswold
An unflinching tale of how three different US cops react to the wave of illegal immigration and try to maintain control amidst the turmoil. Read morePublished on December 28, 2012 by Layers of Thought
I read "El Gavilan" while the power was out after the hurricane with a shake flashlight and it kept my mind busy. Read morePublished on November 9, 2012 by Margaret Picky
Tell Lyon accepts the job of sheriff in New Austin, Ohio. He is ready to make a new start after losing his wife and child in a fire. Read morePublished on October 20, 2012 by gpat65
While this book deals with some very serious and relevant issues -- illegal immigration, corruption in law enforcement, complex relationships, murder -- the characters simply don't... Read morePublished on October 9, 2012 by Jeremy Storly
This novel has it all. Heated passions, racial intolerance, murder, rape, hidden romance, honest cops and corrupt cops. Innocent women and tired and weary punta's. Read morePublished on October 5, 2012 by Ruth B. Ingram
Able Hawk is an old time lawman and sheriff of an Ohio county. Appalled by the erosion of his community by waves of undocumented aliens uninterested in matriculating, he positions... Read morePublished on September 28, 2012 by Antigone Walsh
The premise of illegal immigrants and cross-border mysteries is promising but I could not get into the story itself. Better luck next time.Published on September 26, 2012 by reviewer
Take a town in Ohio that used to be sleepy but has been flooded with illegal immigrants. There's a new police chief, and he takes an instant liking to one of the local legal... Read morePublished on September 25, 2012 by TJ Mccarthy