I'm Carmen Amato.

I used to work for the CIA, now I write mystery and suspense, including the Detective Emilia Cruz police series set in Acapulco.

Expect risk, power, corruption. And relationships with heat.

Amato skillfully juxtaposes the Mexican city of Acapulco’s glittering, wealthy enclaves with its seamy, violent underbelly . . . with danger and betrayal never more than a few pages away.



From the moment I started the first one, I couldn’t put it down. Her work touches on important issues affecting Mexico in a real, human way and is exciting, fast paced and utterly gripping.



Amato brings her characters to life with her vivid writing style and sets them on the streets of a Mexico steeped in Catholicism and corruption.



Amato combines marvelous detail about life in Mexico City with a poignant love story between the unlikeliest of individuals, woven seamlessly into an enthralling political drama.



A thrilling series.



Featured reads




What if a drug cartel conspired to buy Mexico’s presidential elections? As official corruption runs rampant, who will stop them?

Read the standalone novel that Literary Fiction Review called “Enthralling political drama.”


Dive into the first Detective Emilia Cruz mystery for just $0.99! If you like international mystery series by Jo Nesbo, Ann Cleeves, Cara Black, and Louise Penny, you’ll want to meet Emilia Cruz.

She’s the first female police detective in Acapulco. She can take the heat. Can you?


The latest Detective Emilia Cruz mystery is based on the 2014 mass disappearances of students from the Ayotzinapa teacher’s college in Mexico. 

43 MISSING was a finalist for Best Procedural of 2017 from the Killer Nashville International Writer’s Conference. 

FREE Detective Emilia Cruz Starter Library

Including “The Beast,” previously featured on the Huffington Post’s Fiction50 showcase

We’d be pleased to publish “The Beast”  . . . all of us here who read it were quite enamored of it.

Alex Eichler, editor, HUFFINGTON POST Fiction50

Emilia is definitely a character that is close to my heart. She is a real gem with human feelings, a strong personality that doesn’t bend.


You’ll also get my Mystery Ahead newsletter with more exclusive booknews, excerpts, and mystery reviews.


Current projects


  • RUSSIAN MOJITO: Detective Emilia Cruz Book 7 87% 87%
  • NARCO NOIR: Detective Emilia Cruz Book 8 12% 12%

From the blog

Open Letter to 2019

Dear 2019, With the benefit of having lived through your younger brother known as 2018, you will find me a bit changed. Older, wiser, and a bit more cunning.   Love, Carmen From 2018, with love Every year, instead of a list of easily-forgotten resolutions,...

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The mystery of the disappearing home office

As 2019 approaches, many of us (self included) look to see the progress made over the past year. For many of us (self included) it was a year of transition. We moved to a new house in a new state. The Dream House, in a place with lots of...

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Welcome to the opioid crisis

I spent 30 years with the CIA. My official resume says things like “distinguished record of solutions-driven leadership across multiple mission areas,” and “led program responsible for collection, translation, and analysis of breaking events,” and “oversaw work of...

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