Cross-Out, by Roger Cannon ISBN 9781629670799
Four out of five stars
Jaime (Kimo on the street) Flores is a student and aspiring cop by day and a graffiti artist (tagger) at night. He is also an experienced mountain climber, so he is capable of reaching places on structures that no one else can reach. Kimo is the son of a cop slain in the line of duty, is attending an alternative high school and rides along with officers on patrol. Gangs are everywhere in his world, the story opens with a member of the Posse gang being gunned down by a member of the rival OSS gang shortly after he was released from prison. Kimo is a member of the OSS group.
This dramatically escalates the conflict, before the shooting, most of their rival activities were defacing each other’s tags or tagging the most difficult to reach locations. Now the Posse is out for revenge in the form of blood. Kimo has a sister that is engaged to his best friend Rob and the officers that Kimo works with on the force are supposedly unaware that he is a tagger. Rob is about to graduate from high school and is looking forward to going on to college.
The warfare between the two gangs escalates, there is other criminal behavior, including auto theft and drug dealing, so there is a penchant for significant violence. Kimo must balance his two worlds, neither of which he is willing to give up, try to keep himself and his friends alive and cope with the lingering fallout from losing his father.
The story is one that is familiar, people growing up in a gang infested neighborhood and must join to be accepted and protected. While doing this, they must stay out of serious trouble if they are to use their talents and graduate from high school before going on to college. Fortunately, Kimo has several powerful mentors, both in school as well as on the force. The story at times moves slower than it could, but it still gets there in a reasonable amount of time. It keeps your interest even through the lags.