The Devil’s Harvest: A Ruthless Killer, a Terrorized Community, and the Search for Justice in CA’s Central Valley
A gut-wrenching and timely deep-dive into the unbelievable true story of Jose Martinez, a drug cartel hitman responsible for dozens of murders across the forgotten farmlands of California’s Central Valley, The Devil’s Harvest sheds light on how the criminal justice system fails our country’s most vulnerable immigrant communities.
On the surface, 58-year-old Jose Martinez may look like your average neighbor, mechanic, and devoted father. However, unbeknownst to his many loved ones, Martinez worked as a drug cartel debt collector and hitman for over 35 years, terrorizing the poor, rural, immigrant communities of California’s Central Valley and beyond. Having confessed to three dozen murders, he is one of the most prolific serial killers in American history–along the lines of Ted Bundy, John Wayne Gacy, and even H.H. Holmes. And yet until he voluntarily turned himself in, Martinez was virtually unstoppable.
How did Martinez manage to evade law enforcement for so long with little more than a slap on the wrist? Because he understood a dark truth about the criminal justice system: if you kill the right people–people who are poor, who aren’t white, and who don’t have anyone to speak up for them–you can get away with it.
Melding the pacing and suspense of a true crime thriller with the rigor of top-notch investigative journalism, THE DEVIL’S HARVEST follows award-winning reporter Jessica Garrison’s relentless search for the truth as she traces the life of this merciless assassin, the cops who chased him, and the families of his many victims. Drawing upon decades of case files, interrogation transcripts, on the ground reporting, and Martinez’s own handwritten journals, THE DEVIL’S HARVEST uses a gripping and often shocking narrative to dig into one of the most important moral questions haunting our politically divided nation today: why do some deaths–and some lives–matter more than others?
My thoughts: This story about the deadly killer held my interest as it followed him and the men who were trying to catch him. He was really slick at getting away with his various crimes for a long time. He could travel almost anywhere he needed to go to do a job for someone, with no one the wiser. He’d go in and take care of the hit and be gone before the body even began cooling. But there is more to Martinez than just being a brutal killer. He is also a man who is involved in his family. While he may not always be faithful to his wives, he is always there for his children and his mother through the decades. I found this to be an interesting true crime book that turned out to be more current that I realized. Advanced electronic review copy was provided by NetGalley, author Jessica Garrison, and the publisher.
Publisher: Hachette Books – 336 pages
Publication: Aug 4th, 2020
My rating: 4/5 Stars
The Author- Jessica Garrison, who has won numerous national awards as a writer and an editor, is a member of Buzzfeed News’ investigations team, based in San Francisco.