Hello. I’m Carmen Amato.

After 30 years as a CIA intelligence officer, I write mysteries and thrillers, including the award-winning Detective Emilia Cruz series set in Acapulco.

Expect danger, risk, betrayal, and relationships with heat.

Don't worry. I've got your back.



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.

Read for #FREE on KindleUnlimited


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!


"A thrilling series." - National Public Radio

The first 6 books in the Detective Emilia Cruz series are together in a box set for the first time. Includes Bonus Content: Acapulco Sugar, a prequel story and Emilia's Circle, with a riddle for you to solve.

Read for #FREE on Kindle Unlimited!

Emilia Cruz Box Set

Get your free Detective Emilia Cruz Starter Library

3 volume Starter Library
  • The Beast prequel originally published by The Huffington Post
  • The Angler novella based on a true-life murder
  • Who’s Who Guide to the series


"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

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

"For every clue that falls into place, the price is paid in danger and blood." - author Vee James

"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

""Danger and betrayal never more than a few pages away." - KIRKUS REVIEWS

"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

"A brilliant character-driven detective story." - Artisan Book Reviews

"Incredibly absorbing, impossible to put down." - BookVue

"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

"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

"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


Current projects


  • LIAR'S PARADISE: Detective Emilia Cruz Book 9 5% 5%

From the blog

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Author Vee James gifted me this book and a tip of the hat to him. THE MAN WITH ONE OF THOSE FACES is the first book in McDonnell’s Dublin Trilogy about the very funny, yet seriously intriguing misadventures of Paul Mulchrone, Brigit Conroy, and Garda detective Bernard...

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How to be an Armchair Traveler

How to be an Armchair Traveler

I keep waiting for coronavirus to call a time out but, uh, so far . . . no. It's turning me into an armchair traveler. You, too? I have missed museums. Not that I'm a rabid art hound, but museums are a great reason to get up and go somewhere new to refuel my creative...

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Mini Masterclass: How to Write a Mystery Series

Mini Masterclass: How to Write a Mystery Series

Did you ever want to write a mystery series? Have an idea for a character but nothing else? Maybe you need a blueprint for finally getting that mystery series written. True Story When I worked for the CIA, diving into real-life mysteries, I loved reading mysteries...

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For Celine, With Love

For Celine, With Love

TRUE STORY On 11 May 1968, when I was 8 years old, I made my First Communion at St. Paul’s Church in Rome NY. My first cousin Celine was next to me, wearing an identical outfit of starched white linen shift and a lace mantilla secured with a satin ribbon tied under...

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Press Releases

2020 Poison Cup Award from CrimeMasters of America

2020 Poison Cup Award from CrimeMasters of America

13 September 2020 The Detective Emilia Cruz police procedural series received the 2020 Poison Cup Award from CrimeMasters of America, the second year in a row that the series has been honored with the award. A peer award, the Poison Cup is a significant and coveted...

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Detective Emilia Cruz Mysteries Released in Spanish

Detective Emilia Cruz Mysteries Released in Spanish

25 June 2020 CLIFF DIVER, the first thriller in the Detective Emilia Cruz series by Carmen Amato has been released in Spanish as LA CLAVADISTA. Emilia Cruz, the first female police detective in Acapulco, dives into an ocean of secrets, lies, and murder when she...

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Carmen Amato

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. She also owns a legendary vintage Furla bag or two.



Here's where all the extra goodies await, like free first chapters, a rogue's gallery of photos, and even my best tips for writing a mystery series. If you are looking for my CIA war stories, check out the #truestory category on the blog. Mojitos not included.


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