Monday, November 28, 2011

"El Gavilan"

Edgar®-nominee Craig McDonald is an award-winning journalist, editor and fiction writer. His short fiction has appeared in literary magazines, anthologies and several online crime fiction sites.  His novels include four entries in the Hector Lassiter series.

He applied the Page 69 Test to El Gavilan, his new standalone novel, and reported the following:
My new novel, El Gavilan, tracks a single murder and its polarizing effects on a region of Ohio struggling to cope with waves of illegal immigrants.

The two primary cops committed to solving the killing are a former Border Patrol sector-head turned small-town-police-chief named Tell Lyon. Lyon’s wife and child died in a firebombing meant to kill Tell.

The other cop is Horton County Sheriff Able Hawk. New Austin, Ohio—Tell’s new jurisdiction—lies largely within the boundaries of Horton County. Tell, still reeling from his family’s death, has come to Ohio with visions of some Andy Griffith, Mayberry-like spin on policing…a place where tensions will run low and crimes of a decidedly Mickey Mouse variety will abound.

It’s a terrific miscalculation on Tell’s part. And, as Able points out to Tell on page 69, the border tensions Tell has fled La Frontera to escape are all too prevalent, even in central Ohio. In an assertion that stands as a kind of theme of El Gavilan, Sheriff Hawk observes to Tell, these days, the border is nearly everywhere.

Tell and Hawk share this exchange in the sheriff’s favored diner. They’ve bonded the night before at the scene of an apartment fire that claimed several lives. The apartment complex was packed with illegal immigrants who spoke no English. Arriving firefighters and EMS techs spoke no Spanish. The ensuing failure to communicate resulted in the needless death of several Latinos. Hawk and the Spanish-speaking Lyon arrived too late at the scene to save those killed in the fire, and so tried to provide comfort and support to the survivors.

Handing Tell a newspaper account of the night’s fire, Hawk says, “We two at least come off as sympathetic. Not that that matters. But, of course, we both know it matters.”

The scene unfolding between Lyon and Hawk is a pivotal one that not only sets the tone for their sometimes uneasy partnership, but also their first, fumbling attempts to find some shared stride that will carry them through an investigation that will exact a terrible toll on not just on the cops working the murder case, but the New Austin community as a whole.
Learn more about the books and author at Craig McDonald's website and blog.

My Book, The Movie: El Gavilan.

Visit the complete list of books in the Page 69 Test Series.

--Marshal Zeringue