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 Chase has created a bold and dramatic cover.

Narco Noir

A film reel stands in for the letter “O” in NOIR. The black background represents the darkness of the narco thriller genre. I love that the inside of the reel is blood red . . . for good reason.

Death of a taxi driver

NARCO NOIR is based on the front page story of the 23 November 2013 international edition of The Miami Herald. Honduran taxi driver Benjamin Alvarez Moncada, affectionately known as “Don Mincho,” was murdered in the capital of Tegucigalpa.

Don Mincho was shot by a 15-year-old gang member as he sat in his taxi waiting for the after-Mass crowd. The killer fired 3 shots and then “ambled away as casually as he had arrived.”

The killer represented a gang extorting money from the taxi drivers. Each of the drivers paid about 25% of their weekly income to the gang. When the gang demanded a huge increase the drivers refused. The gang then delivered a message.

“[Don Mincho] pulled his taxi to the front of the taxi stand behind Los Dolores church . . . He was the first in line, so he was the first to die . . . They killed Don Mincho because he was first in line. It was nothing against him.”

Taxi driver murder in Honduras

I saved the newspaper in my tickler file. Seven years later, with the crime transplanted to Acapulco, Don Mincho’s story is retold in NARCO NOIR.

Thank you, Sean Penn

The movie-themed plot twist in NARCO NOIR was inspired by actor Sean Penn’s 2016 meeting with Joachim “El Chapo” Guzmán Loera, head of the Sinaloa cartel, as published in Rolling Stone magazine. El Chapo, now languishing in prison in the US, was Mexico’s most famous criminal fugitive at the time of his meeting with Penn. He’d already escaped from Mexican prison twice and “pioneered the use of tunnels to transport his products and to evade capture.” Penn was assisted in connecting with the fugitive El Chapo by Mexican actress Kate del Castillo, who famously played the title role in the La Reina del Sur television series.

The article sparked online gossip that El Chapo wanted to make a biopic of his life, with Penn as the star.

Colombian druglord Pablo Escobar similarly wanted to have a movie made of his life, with a screenplay written by his on-again-off-again lover Virginia Vallejo, who wrote about their relationship in LOVING PABLO, HATING ESCOBAR.

A biopic about the fugitive head of a drug cartel?

That’s a plot element I couldn’t resist.

2 Plots, 1 Enemy

How does NARCO NOIR accommodate 2 very different plot lines?

The random murder of a taxi driver. A druglord who wants someone to make a movie of his life.

Well, it all starts on the day Emilia’s worst enemy gets into her taxi . . .

It was him.

He had short hair, not the dramatic curtain sweeping his shoulders that Emilia remembered. Instead of the loose cotton pants that left little to the imagination, with the tattoo of a black-robed Santa Muerte on display across his naked chest, he was still muscular under a finely tailored suit with a shirt open at the throat.

Emilia could barely breathe. He was playing the role of a prosperous businessman, no longer strutting across a makeshift stage in the middle of nowhere, no longer exhorting worshipers into a frenzy of prayer to Santa Muerte as his cohorts picked out women in the audience for his sex trafficking operation.

Need to Catch up?

43 MIssing

Meet a certain head of a drug cartel in 43 MISSING: Detective Emilia Cruz Book 6:

Russian Mojito cover

Is he obsessed with Emilia? Find out in RUSSIAN MOJITO: Detective Emilia Cruz Book 7:


  1. Jane C Mirandette

    Best plot yet!My copy was pre-ordered and ” popped up on my phone late the other night.Maybe I’d just take a quick peek? Needless to say I couldn’t read just one- Chapter that is! I devoured about half the book before sleep overtook me! I’ve finished it now and all Ii can say is Wow! It’s a great read but it’s important to have the previous story lines read to get the most bang for your read! Loved it! Funny how most authors finsh the plot about a chapeter or two before the book ends? Not this author and certainly not this book!

    • Carmen

      Thank you!!

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Narco Noir


Mystery and thriller author. Retired Central Intelligence Agency intel officer. Dog mom to Hazel and Dutch. Recovering Italian handbag addict.


Author Carmen Amato

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