Summary and book reviews of Crossers by Philip Caputo

Crossers

by Philip Caputo

Crossers
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  • First Published:
    Oct 2009, 464 pages
    Paperback:
    Oct 2010, 464 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Kim Kovacs

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Book Summary

When Gil Castle loses his wife in the Twin Tower attacks, he retreats to his family's sprawling homestead in a remote corner of the Southwest, where violence is a constant presence.... Searingly dramatic, bold and timely, Crossers is Philip Caputo's most ambitious and brilliantly realized novel yet.

When Gil Castle loses his wife in the Twin Tower attacks, he retreats to his family's sprawling homestead in a remote corner of the Southwest. Consumed by grief, he has to find a way to live with his loss in this strange, forsaken part of the country, where drug lords have more power than police and violence is a constant presence. But it is also a world of vast open spaces, where Castle begins to rebuild his belief in the potential for happiness—until he starts to uncover the dark truths about his fearsome grandfather, a legacy that has been tightly shrouded in mystery in the years since the old man's death.

When Miguel Espinoza shows up at the ranch, terrified after two friends were murdered in a border-crossing drug deal gone bad, Castle agrees to take him in. Yet his act of generosity sets off a flood of violence and vengeance, a fierce reminder of the fact that while he may be able to reinvent himself, he may never escape his history.

Searingly dramatic, bold and timely, Crossers is Philip Caputo's most ambitious and brilliantly realized novel yet.

Ben Erskine

We fly from our time and place to the settlement of Lochiel, the present-day ghost town then home to four hundred souls: adobe houses and miners' shacks, a post office, a school, a few stores, and three saloons islanded on the mile-high grasslands of the San Rafael Valley and tethered to the outside world by a single road that writhes westward through the Patagonia Mountains to its end in Nogales, the road deeply rutted by the giant wagons trundling silver and copper ore out of the mountains to Lochiel's smelter, its stack leaking smoke into an otherwise unblemished desert sky.

The black tendril leans in a light breeze, and a faint, sooty mist sifts down on the tin roof of a nearby bungalow—the house-cum-courtroom of Joshua Pittman, the justice of the peace. A clean-shaven man of forty, wearing a collarless shirt and a vest he can no longer button over his portly torso, he is seated on a spindle-backed chair on his front porch, booted feet crossed atop the porch rail...

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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

Multiple plot lines twist and intertwine throughout Crossers. The central protagonist, Gil Castle, is healing from his wife's death by creating a new life for himself on the family homestead. Author Philip Caputo contrasts the thoughtful Gil with his cousin Blaine Erskine, a lifelong rancher who seems to channel the Old West of a bygone era. Their ranch on the Mexican border is a thoroughfare for drug runners and illegal aliens. Erskine runs afoul of one of the major drug lords, who is also involved in a bloody turf war with another kingpin. Throw in historical transcripts relating the life and times of Erskine's grandfather, Ben, as well as discussions of 9/11, terrorism, and the U.S. invasion of Iraq, and you've got one excessively complicated book. In the hands of a lesser novelist, the complexity could be confusing, with too much happening to follow. Caputo, however, manages to balance all the threads beautifully, merging them into a rich and satisfying tapestry.   (Reviewed by Kim Kovacs).

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Media Reviews

The New York Times - William T. Vollmann

Caputo tells Ben's story with power and verisimilitude. His portrayal of the ranchers and their extended family also rings very true.

The Dallas Morning News - Dale L Walker

Crossers is at once a color-filled action tale; a generational saga with a moral; a touching love story; and a bold lesson in history and its inevitabilities.

Library Journal

Starred Review. Readers of Caputo's Acts of Faith will be hoping for the same measured, masterly storytelling, informed by sociopolitical concerns, and they won't be disappointed. Highly recommended.

Kirkus Reviews

Starred Review. A masterful tale about what comes of 'trying to escape history'—from which, the author gives us to understand, there is no safe place to hide.

Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. [G]orgeously stark…. Caputo’s west supersedes elemental cowboys and lone justice with the malaise of post-9/11 America and the violence of the Mexican desert – as gruesome as in Iraq – frothing with moral ambiguity and fraught with complicity.

Reader Reviews

Bill B from Peoria

Superior Thriller!
If all thrillers were this well written, with characters this well developed, I might read nothing else but thrillers. It seems to me that most "thrillers" do not thrill. They are often generically written and unintelligent, Not so with ...   Read More

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Beyond the Book

Illegal Drug Use in the USA
The primary protagonist in Crossers is the head of a powerful Mexican drug cartel specializing in the sale and distribution of both marijuana and cocaine.

Illicit narcotics have been smuggled across the Mexican border into the United States for decades, and the illegal drug market in the United States is one of the most profitable in the world. According to The US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) approximately 70% of all foreign narcotics enter the US via Mexico, most of it concealed in some of the 116 million vehicles that cross the border annually. Smaller amounts are carried over in backpacks, frequently by people paying back others for helping them enter the United States ...

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