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Publisher's Summary

The true confession of an assassin, a sicario, who rose through the ranks of the Southern California gang world to become a respected leader in an elite, cruelly efficient crew of hit men for Mexico's "most vicious drug cartel" - and eventually found a way out and a (almost) normal life.

Martin Corona, a US citizen, fell into the outlaw life at 12 and worked for a crew run by the Arellano brothers, founders of the Tijuana drug cartel that dominated the Southern California drug trade and much bloody gang warfare for decades. Corona's crew would cross into the United States from their luxurious hideout in Mexico, kill whomever needed to be killed north of the border, and return home in the afternoon. That work continued until the arrest of Javier Arellano-Félix in 2006 in a huge coordinated DEA operation. Martin Corona played a key role in the downfall of the cartel when he turned state's evidence. He confessed to multiple murders. Special Agent of the California Department of Justice Steve Duncan, who wrote the foreword, says Martin Corona is the only former cartel hit man he knows who is truly remorseful.

Martin's father was a US marine. The family had many solid middle-class advantages, including the good fortune to be posted in Hawaii for a time, during which a teenage Martin thought he might be able to turn away from the outlaw life of theft, drug dealing, gun play, and prostitution. He briefly quit drugs and held down a job, but a die had been cast. He soon returned to a gangbanging life he now deeply regrets.

How does someone become evil, a murderer who can kill without hesitation? This story is an insight into how it happened to one human being and how he now lives with himself. He is no longer a killer; he has asked for forgiveness; he has made a kind of peace for himself. He wrote letters to family members of his victims. Some of them not only wrote back but came to support him at his parole hearings. It is a cautionary tale but also one that shows that evil doesn't have to be forever.

©2017 Martin Corona and Tony Rafael (P)2017 Penguin Audio

Critic Reviews

"Corona’s engaging story offers an insider’s peek into gang and prison life, providing insight into how a seemingly average boy can become a drug kingpin and a murderer. Recommended for true crime lovers." (Library Journal)

"In the world of LA crime writers, the late great Tony Rafael was ahead of his time. He perceived truths and stories that others couldn’t, or wouldn’t. The world he helps Martin Corona take us to here is one that few writers would have dared enter, much less known how to navigate. Don’t miss this - the latest and last work of a great crime writer." (Sam Quinones, author of Dreamland: The True Tale of America’s Opiate Epidemic

“Martin Corona takes you inside the scary world of drug gangs and killers as only a man who walked those streets can. His book is courageous, and a gripping read. It should be required reading for anybody concerned about gang violence, street crime and border security.” (Fred Burton, vice president for Intelligence, Stratfor, former State Department special agent, and author of Ghost: Confessions of a Counterterrorism Agent

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What listeners say about Confessions of a Cartel Hit Man

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Rather Disappointing

Would you try another book from Martin Corona and Tony Rafael and/or Jacob Vargas?

Hell no! Once was plenty enough re: Corona's exploits. Don't get either too excited or mislead by this books title: there is very little 'hitting' going on, and lots of trying to justify his actions, or at least downplay them. I would estimate a full 98-99% of the book is the author recounting his time in prison/youth centers/super-maxes...which can be interesting enough, just not what the title implied was coming. 3/5 max.

What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)

Anti-climatic, like much of the book.

Which scene was your favorite?

None really jump out. :(

Do you think Confessions of a Cartel Hit Man needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

See 'Would you try another book' section above.

Any additional comments?

More of a 'Life in Prison' book than hit-man book.

13 people found this helpful

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So-so

This book goes into great detail when explaining how he became a Hitman, but then ultra-rushes through the period when he actually was one. Disappointed in this book.

8 people found this helpful

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This is what the game world is really like.

I work in this world, I've met, housed, and dealt with alot of these people, and I can say that I've never heard so much truth in one sitting. What Martin Corona lived is still happening to alot of gang youth today. he's a drop in the bucket and until we understand that fixing this is only going to be accomplished by fixing the lives of kids, we are doomed to relive this history. Good for Corona for finding the truth and working at atonement. I applaud his effort. He's a good man who deserves forgiveness.

3 people found this helpful

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A must listen!

This book was amazing. I loved the details it goes into. As a LA native, most of the subject matter (gangs, names, places, etc.) really put my head into the storytelling. My favorite thing of all was Jacob’s narration. His monotone style and relaxed demeanor made me feel like Martin Corona was at the Audible Studios himself.

3 people found this helpful

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Poorly written

When I started listening to it I couldn't believe how bad it was I listen to the end and I was not surprised probably the worst book I've ever read

7 people found this helpful

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Gripping!

Thanks to the stellar performance of the narrator, this book "reads" like a gritty, high-octane action movie.

2 people found this helpful

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great performance!

the absolute best part of this book to me was the narrator. I enjoyed this book very much! you should enjoy it!

4 people found this helpful

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Great Listen.

The book is very descriptive and well-spoken. The story gives the listener a glimpse into the violent and turbulent world. In addition, he describes the interactions between himself and the criminals in a very intimate way. The narrator was very believable!

1 person found this helpful

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Great Story

Will not be dissapointed alot of background into the main characters life and how he became what he was

1 person found this helpful

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compelling to hear from a real life hitman story

i would recommend this true story of a hitmans confession i was worth reading it

1 person found this helpful