Emilia Cruz is the first female police detective in Acapulco.


If the cartels don’t get her another cop will.


“A thrilling series” – National Public Radio

2019 Poison Cup Award for Outstanding Series – CrimeMasters of America



Detective Emilia Cruz Book #8

When a taxi driver is brutally executed on a busy Acapulco street, Emilia goes undercover to catch a gang killer.

But when her worst enemy steps off the curb and into her taxi, she's dragged to a movie set where she'll play the role of a lifetime.

Coming to Amazon 16 April 2020!


Detective Emilia Cruz Book #7

When kidnappers target her family and a enigmatic guest winds up dead in the city's most luxurious hotel, Acapulco's first female police detective is served a terrifying crime cocktail.

Can Emilia deliver a dose of Mexican justice to a ruthless Russian killer?

Read for #FREE on Kindle Unlimited!


"Rivetingly dramatic tale of politics and corruption . . . Enthralling." - Literary Fiction Review

In this standalone political thriller, could a drug cartel buy Mexico's presidency? It's a story ripped from today's headlines as well as author Carmen Amato's own counterdrug expertise.

Read for #FREE on Kindle Unlimited!

“Danger and betrayal never more than a few pages away.” 



Current projects


  • NARCO NOIR: Detective Emilia Cruz Book 8 88% 88%
  • Girl Meets Paris: A memoir in letters 75% 75%
  • LA CLAVADISTA 90% 90%

From the blog

Mexico, Women, Femicide, Fiction

Mexico, Women, Femicide, Fiction

“Women and glass are always in danger.” – Mexican proverb Imagine if Portland, Maine, or Greenville, South Carolina went missing, simply ebbing away like shadows in sunlight over the course of 14 years. The official count of people missing in Mexico since 2006 is...

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Countdown to NARCO NOIR

Countdown to NARCO NOIR

NARCO NOIR, Detective Emilia Cruz Book 8 will be released on 16 April! Emilia goes undercover as a taxi driver to catch a killer, but a dangerous detour takes her to a movie set and the choice that will change her life forever. Cover reveal Once again, artist Matt...

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Author to Author with Bruce Robert Coffin

Author to Author with Bruce Robert Coffin

I met fellow police procedural author Bruce Coffin at the 2019 Killer Nashville conference, where we both won Silver Falchion awards, and have become an avid fan of his John Byron series. His new book WITHIN PLAIN SIGHT comes out this week. Bruce took a minute to...

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Carmen Amato has created a character that deserves to be recognized as an equal alongside well known favorites created by Hammett, Larson and Padura. I can’t wait to spend more time with Detective Cruz. - Felix Contreras, host, ALTLatino, National Public Radio
For every clue that falls into place, the price is paid in danger and blood. - author Vee James
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 . . . Unique and gripping. - OnlineBookClub.org
The story is full of nonstop action and suspense, but what really got to me in this book is the range of strong emotions I've felt while reading it . . . Emilia is a character that is close to my heart. - MysterySequels
Consistently exciting . . . A clever Mexican detective tale that will leave readers eager for the series' next installment. - Kirkus Reviews
Amato weaves an intricate assortment of themes into a vivid tapestry that depicts both the beauty and ugliness of Acapulco. Her attention to clothing, food, and other details of the cityscape bring life to her characters. - Kirkus Reviews
Amato spins a taut tale, keeping the reader off balance and guessing just as much as Cruz does. The pace is swift and the action is realistically and unflinchingly portrayed. - Jim Nesbitt, author of the Ed Earl Burch series
Astounding . . . a haunting page-turner . . . The tragedy of decent members of society caught in the crossfire stayed with me long after I finished the book. - Nightstand Reviews
A brilliant character-driven detective story. - Artisan Book Reviews
She tells about interesting characters striving to improve their lives in the difficult environment of modern-day Acapulco, rendering a story far richer than the thriller factories of the big publishing houses. - LibraryThing







Carmen Amato is a retired Central Intelligence Agency intelligence officer using 30 years worth of counterdrug and espionage experience to craft intrigue-filled crime fiction, including the Detective Emilia Cruz police series set in Acapulco. 

A recipient of both the National Intelligence Award and the Career Intelligence Medal, Carmen is also a survivor of three earthquakes, a train derailment, and a scuba diving encounter with a lionfish. 

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