About 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.

Acapulco through the eyes of Detective Emilia Cruz

There’s the Acapulco that tourists know; luxury hi-rises, candlelit nights on the beach, the sweep of the most beautiful bay in the world, the majesty of the clear blue Pacific. There’s also the Acapulco that is a prize to be fought over by drug cartels–the city that is home to hookers and thieves, the streets where life is cheap and poverty is as pervasive as the wind off the ocean. Both of these versions of Acapulco claw at each other and force Emilia to survive between them.

About cover artist Matt Chase

You’ve seen his work in national and international publications like The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times.

#EmiliaCruz posts from the blog

Behind-the-scenes, including the research and imagery that propel the Detective Emilia Cruz books.

FREE Detective Emilia Cruz Starter Library

Get The Beast, the story of how Emilia came to be the first female police detective in Acapulco, plus The Angler, loosely based on the murder of Fr. Richard Junius in Mexico City, and the exclusive Who’s Who Guide to the Series.

Midnight Mass, Christmas 2003 

I’m sitting in the front pew of St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in Mexico City with my mother and 7-year-old daughter. My 9-year-old son is an altar server, resplendent in his red cassock with the white surplice over it. Father Richard Junius, who would be murdered 4 years later, is leading us  in the Prayer of the Faithful.

A junkie, stoned out of his mind and waving a handgun, slammed into the church and careened down the aisle toward the altar. He brandished the gun at Father Richard, shouting that he needed money. Father Richard calmly dug through his vestments to find a pocket and gave the man a few coins. Several parishioners surged out of their seats and got the man, now considerably calmer, out of the church.

The incident with the drug addict stayed with me and became the impetus for the first Detective Emilia Cruz story, called “So Far From God,” that morphed into “The Cliff” short story which in turn became the first chapter of CLIFF DIVER, the book that launched the series. He was the embodiment of what I saw happening in Mexico. Good people addled by drugs, turning to violence. Many more are caught up in the cartels, dealers, and sicarios that keep the gears of the war on drugs turning. Even more are dead or missing.

But there are good people fighting to save Mexico’s culture, history, and economy. Detective Emilia Cruz is one of them and her fight is as authentic as I can make it.

Felix Contreras, the host of National Public Radio’s ALT. Latino program asked me about Emilia.

I told him she represented hope.

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