Published March, 24, 2009; Bantam
Genre: thriller; rating: 4 of 5 stars
Interview with Paul Levine:
1. What are the major factors that inspired you to write the novel, Illegal?
News stories about the horrific incident where several Mexican citizens died in the back of a locked trailer truck on a run across the California/Arizona desert. And....the facts contained here: http://live.psu.edu/story/38537
2. How did your legal background and experience help in writing this book?
Not so much. Very little courtroom in ILLEGAL. It's unlike most of my legal thrillers.
3. Do you plan on writing other books with similar topics?
I think I've exhausted myself and the subject.
4. Are you at work on another book at this time?
I'm revisiting my roots. My first Jake Lassiter novel since 1997. My first one was "To Speak for the Dead," 1990; and the seventh and last was "Flesh & Bones," 1997.
5. Several reviewers on Amazon say that ILLEGAL is the beginning of a new series with your new main character (Jimmy Payne). What do you say to that?
Jimmy Payne on hold until I write the new Lassiter.
My review:This suspense thriller about the hazardous journey that a woman and her young son make to the U.S. from Mexico is as riveting and suspenseful as it is shocking, to anyone not familiar with illegal immigration issues along the border.
The novel centers around trial lawyer Jimmy Payne, whose life, marriage, and career has spiralled downward after the death of his teenage son Adam in a car accident caused by a drunken worker from Mexico, Manuel Garcia. The accident weighs on Payne's mind as something he could have prevented. He hits bottom low after he keeps some of the bribe money in a sting operation to expose a crooked L.A. judge. The judge, exposed as corrupt, commits suicide, and fellow lawyers start shaking their heads at Payne's folly.
Payne decides to take a new turn in his life. He drives to Mexico to find Garcia, the man who killed his son. In reality, he heads to Mexico to help a precocious and gutsy 12-year-old Mexican boy find his mother, Marisol, who was separated from the boy during their long trip to the U.S.
"Sure, he would do his best to find Marisol Perez. His good deed. Then he would go to Mexico and find Manuel Garcia. His murderous deed."The boy, Tino, had sought Jimmy out in L.A. as someone famous and sympathetic, someone who had successfully defended several illegal immigrants who had survived a notorious border crossing some time back. The trip to Mexico to trace the route taken by Marisol reveals the hazards she faced trying to reach the U.S., and the new dangers after she arrived. Marisol and others were at the mercy of ruthless people traffickers, drug smugglers, and people running safe houses for illegals in transit from Mexico, Honduras, Guatemala, and other Central American countries.
Marisol's journey leads Payne and Tio back to the U.S. for the story's suspenseful climax. The book is a thriller with no holds barred. It reads like stark realism and has graphic violence, against men and women, but the book 's harsh reality depicts the journeys as full of danger, despair, and death, even for some who make it across the border.
Well worth reading! I recommend the book for anyone interested in the plight of Mexican nationals seeking to enter the U.S.
Book provided by the publisher, for my objective review.