The Detective Emilia Cruz series

Emilia Cruz is the first and only female police detective in Acapulco, Mexico's murder capital. Every day, Emilia faces drug violence, official corruption, and Mexico's culture of machismo. Plots are torn from today’s headlines: missing persons, money laundering, drug violence, cartels, crooks, and official corruption.

As a female and a cop in Mexico, Emilia lives in a pressure cooker. It’s hard to know who she can trust and harder still to have a normal relationship when she’s immersed for so much of the time in a stew of paranoia and deceit. Hotel manager Kurt Rucker adds another dimension of danger to her life; her heart is at stake with him.

My goal is to bring the reader shoulder-to-shoulder with Emilia, hearing her heart pound and helping her calculate the odds of survival. 

(books in order newest to oldest)

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43 MISSING

Based on the true events of September 2014, when 43 college students disappeared after a night of violence in the Mexican state of Guerrero, Emilia Cruz is detailed to a national task force to investigate such a crime. She’s the junior member and the only woman.

As tensions within the task force soar, a diplomat from the United States embassy offers Emilia $50,000 to end the investigation into the missing students. The diplomat claims it is delaying the extradition of a famous jailed cartel leader known as the Barrel Bomber, who escaped from prison in Mexico twice before. If the extradition doesn’t happen soon, chances are he’ll escape again.

The money could help Emilia hunt the criminal El Acólito. But it ends any chance of bringing the truth to the families of the 43 missing students. When the task force heads to the scene of the crime, Emilia knows her loyalty, conscience, and very future will be put to the test. Read Chapter 1

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PACIFIC REAPER

In the remote Coyuca Lagoon reserve, Detective Emilia Cruz Emilia and her partner Franco Silvio find an elaborate altar to Santa Muerte next to the body of a known gang member. Prayers to the so-called Skeleton Saint deliver a dire warning to the death saint’s enemies. When a rival gang retaliates with mutilations and public messages, warfare sweeps across the city.

Emilia’s investigation is soon a maze of unholy clues. At the same time, everyone close to her has a brush with death. Bad luck? Or is the Skeleton Saint’s curse coming true?

From a beachfront hostel to a voodoo market, the closer Emilia gets to the truth, the worse things get. When she goes undercover as a Santa Muerte worshipper on the eve of the Day of the Dead, her life will be stripped of everything she holds dear. Read Chapter 1

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KING PESO

When partner Franco Silvio’s wife is killed, Detective Emilia Cruz is terrified that it is connected to the recent murders of three senior law enforcement officials with whom she worked. The El Trio murders have the Acapulco police is disarray but there are few clues.

She’s gambling on a task force to investigate but Emilia is reassigned instead. Her new police unit is a political time bomb championed by Acapulco’s ambitious mayor and overseen by shady union strongman Victor Obregon Sosa. Meanwhile, Emilia’s ongoing hunt for a missing girl leads to the infamous El Pharaoh casino, a place she and Silvio know only too well . . . Corruption and paranoia rule the day. Each spin of the wheel could be Emilia’s last. Read Chapter 1

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DIABLO NIGHTS

Detective Emilia Cruz stumbles upon a religious relic from Mexico's Cristero War at the same time as she and partner, senior detective Franco Silvio, find a murder victim aboard a cruise ship. The victim’s pockets are lined with Ora Ciega, a rare heroin strain from Colombia that promises more drug war violence for Acapulco’s already bloody streets.

The destinies of Ora Ciega, the religious relic, and a rookie detective merge into a fateful trip into the hills above Mexico’s Costa Chica coast south of Acapulco. In a lonely place where vigilante groups have replaced civil authority and the crash of surf competes with gunshots, Emilia will face the biggest challenge of her police detective career. But it’s nothing compared to the shocking climax waiting for her back in Acapulco. Read Chapter 1

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HAT DANCE

Emilia must catch a violent firebomber and find a missing girl before the iconic beach city is destroyed. Neither investigation is easy, because the influence and impact of Mexico’s drug war is everywhere, just like the salt breeze coming off the ocean. Emilia’s police work is soon hijacked by savage political rivalries, a corrupt Vice cop, and a woman in prison who knows more than she’ll say.

As Acapulco screams for an end to the flames, the arsonist evades Emilia’s sting operation. Meanwhile, the missing girl’s trail leads to Acapulco’s famous lucha libre fighters. Inside the coliseum, the heat of the investigation ignites into an inferno. If Emilia’s only
chance to survive is to dance with the devil, will she take it?  Read Chapter 1

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CLIFF DIVER

Unexpectedly put in charge of the investigation when her lieutenant is found dead, Detective Emilia Cruz uncovers the lieutenant’s sordid sexual past as well as his role in a kidnapping double-cross and counterfeit money scheme.

Reputations are threatened by her discoveries and truth is for sale. Emilia becomes a pawn in an ugly game of power and corruption played by Acapulco’s ambitious mayor and the powerful police union. Rival police detectives try to sabotage Emilia’s investigation. Their ringleader is a prime suspect. A norteamericano hotel manager, Kurt Rucker, has some helpful advice for Emilia but the heat between them is too hot to handle.

Feeling like one of Acapulco’s famous cliff divers hoping not to crash on the rocks below, Emilia must choose between truth and survival. But no matter what choice she makes, she won’t be ready for the shock of the water. Read Chapter 1

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MADE IN ACAPULCO

Five stories chronicle Emilia's first experiences as the first and only female police detective in Acapulco:

"The Beast" captures Emilia’s struggle to become the first female police detective in Acapulco. It previously appeared in The Huffington Post’s Huff/Post 50 Featured Fiction showcase. "The Disappeared" sees Emilia search for a friend who goes missing. Those who have gone missing amid Mexico’s drug war violence is a continuing theme throughout the mystery series. "The Artist" was inspired by Mexican poet Javier Sicilia’s efforts to bring awareness to the plight of families impacted by the drug war violence and references photos of some of the rallies held in Mexico in recent years. "The Date" explores the downside of a job that pits Emilia against Mexico’s enduring culture of machismo, while also drawing on real events that occurred in a nightclub in Mexico in 2006. "The Cliff" is the original Emilia Cruz story. Written for a literary critique group, the story was initially entitled So Far From God and introduces hotel manager Kurt Rucker. The story became the basis for the first Emilia Cruz novel, CLIFF DIVER.

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HECHO EN ACAPULCO

The Spanish translation of MADE IN ACAPULCO, the prequel collection of Detective Emilia Cruz stories.

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THE ARTIST/EL ARTISTA

The English/Spanish dual language version of the short story "The Artist" from MADE IN ACAPULCO, intended as a language learning resource.

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