The Detective Emilia Cruz Series
Emilia Cruz is the first and only female police detective in Acapulco, a city both deadly and breathtaking. A good liar and a mean kickboxer, Emilia fought her way into the detective squadroom and can never let down her guard. Her male colleagues don’t want her and are still out to get her.
Every day, Emilia faces Mexico’s drug violence and 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. You’ll taste the flavors of Mexico and hear the waves pound the sand.
No crime will be simple, no investigation will be easy.
The little church in Mexico City was decorated for Christmas with 100 red poinsettias. Every pew was filled, many with sleepy but excited children, for a special Christmas Eve midnight mass. Father Richard was leading us in the Prayer of the Faithful when an armed man staggered up the center aisle, his limbs jerking as he alternately murmured and shouted incomprehensible words. We all shrank back as he made his way towards the altar, an unexpected and volatile presence.
As the congregation looked on in growing panic, the man accosted Father Richard. The priest didn’t move or stop the prayer, just dug through his robes for a pocket. He pulled out a few pesos and pressed them into the man’s hand.
By that time several of the male congregants had come onto the altar as well and they gently propelled the drug-addled man back down the altar steps and through the church to the rear door.
Christmas mass continued and the addict remained nameless to the shaken congregation. But he stayed with all of us, evidence that Mexico’s own drug problem was growing as more and more drugs transited the country en route to the insatiable United States.
More than that, however, he reminded me of the drug war raging just outside our happy expatriate bubble. We were an American family in Mexico City, embracing a new culture, exploring a vibrant city, and meeting people who were to impact our lives for years to come. But we always knew that the bubble was fragile and as if to prove it, Mexico’s news grew worse in the new year: shootouts in major cities, multiple drug seizures, rising numbers of dead and missing, the murders of mayors, governors and journalists.
I carried my memories of Mexico with me when we left. I poured them into a new novel, bringing a fast-paced contemporary style to a Cinderella story set against the backdrop of political corruption and cartel violence. The result was the 2012 political thriller The Hidden Light of Mexico City, a story from the heart that took on both Mexico’s rigid social system and the corruption that flows from huge drug profits. The reviews made me sure that contemporary fiction could ignite popular interest in what was happening in Mexico better than the news could.
Acapulco is almost another character in the Detective Emilia Cruz series. Once one of the most glamorous tourist destinations in the world, the city has fallen on hard times, thanks to the drug trade. Acapulco is a prize being fought over by rival drug cartels.
Tourism continues to be the city’s lifeblood but Acapulco has two faces; one of luxury and one of poverty. Both claw at Emilia and force her to survive between them.
Emilia and I are in it for the long haul. We’ll see if a mystery series can raise awareness of what’s going on in Mexico, with plot elements straight out of the headlines, an authentic dive into one of the most beautiful settings on earth, and a little salsa fresca from my own years living in Mexico and Central America.
The drug addict unknowingly gave a gift that Christmas day. The Emilia Cruz series will pay it forward.
I'm author 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.