The Devil's Harvest
A Ruthless Killer, a Terrorized Community, and the Search for Justice in California's Central Valley
This suspenseful true story of a drug cartel hitman who got away with murder after murder in California's Central Valley over three decades reveals how the criminal justice system fails our most vulnerable immigrant communities.
On the surface, fifty-eight-year-old Jose Martinez didn't seem evil or even that remarkable—just a regular neighbor, good with cars and devoted to his family. But in between taking his children to Disneyland and visiting his mom, Martinez was also one of the most skilled professional killers police had ever seen.
He tracked one victim to one of the wealthiest corners of America, a horse ranch in Santa Barbara, and shot him dead in the morning sunlight, setting off a decades-long manhunt. He shot another man, a farmworker, right in front of his young wife as they drove to work in the fields. The widow would wait decades for justice. Those were murders for hire. Others he killed for vengeance.
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 assassin, the cops who were always a few steps behind him, and the families of his many victims. Drawing upon decades of case files, interrogation transcripts, on-the-ground reporting, and Martinez's chilling 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?
"Meticulously researched and tightly woven, The Devil's Harvest is an important story because it tells us that if [this] can happen in one place, then it can happen in any place. And that's damn scary." —Michael Connelly, New York Times bestselling author of The Closers, The Lincoln Lawyer, and The Night Fire
Oxygen, "Best True Crime Books of 2020"