RUSSIAN MOJITO, Detective Emilia Cruz Book 7, will be released on 6 June. It is undoubtedly the most complex mystery I’ve ever written.
Emilia’s whole future is on the line.
Mystery writing: the big start
Every Emilia Cruz novel has multiple plot lines. My sticky note outlines are color-coded by subplot and spread across the wall above my desk. It grows as the book evolves, like a weed watered with Miracle Gro.
But before I can build that ever-evolving outline, I have to answer 3 essential questions:
- What personal aspect of Emilia’s life will be impacted?
- What uniquely Mexican cultural element will drive the crime?
- Where does Emilia end up emotionally?
Here’s how the 3 essential question exercise worked for RUSSIAN MOJITO:
1. What personal aspect of Emilia’s life will be impacted?
After the dramatic events in PACIFIC REAPER and 43 MISSING which basically destroyed Emilia’s personal relationships, in RUSSIAN MOJITO she needs to either rebuild or move on.
Emilia must decide what sort of relationship she wants with her mother, whom Emilia believes lied to her for years about the brother Emilia never knew. Emilia must also deal with the feeling that her life would have been much better if she’d been the child her mother gave away, instead of the brother who ruined all the advantages he was given.
And yes, Emilia must either salvage her affair with Kurt Rucker, the gringo manager of Acapulco’s most luxurious hotel, or finally let him go.
2. What uniquely Mexican cultural element will drive the crime?
For some time, I’ve been tracking the phenomenon of fuel thieves in Mexico, called huachicoleros.
For most of us, living in tidy places were gas stations have credit card pumps and convenience marts, it is hard to imagine people driving through the night to the middle of nowhere to dig up a hidden gas pipeline, drill into the steel, insert a spigot, and fill cans with stolen gas to sell on the black market.
Think about the danger! Sparks from the tools used to drill through the steel. The dizzying fumes of gasoline drenching you as it gushes out of the tap. Wrangling heavy vats of gas and selling it by the gallon in some village square. The ever-present fear of fire and arrest.
It’s astounding that people are actually stealing gas out of underground pipelines but in Mexico, the problem has become big enough to close gas stations and have its own saint. Read Borderland Beat’s article about El Nino Huachicolero here. Read the Washington Post article on gas stations closing due to fuel theft here.
The danger is very real. For example, in January more than 80 people died when huachicoleros created a literal fountain of gas from a breached pipeline. Dozens of people rushed to fill containers. When the pipeline exploded, all those people were caught in a deadly fireball. Check out this stunning video from Euro News
3. Where does Emilia end up emotionally?
Again, after the cliffhanger endings of the previous two books, I wanted Emilia to get her life back on track.
RUSSIAN MOJITO has a satisfying wrap, akin to HAT DANCE and DIABLO NIGHTS, yet also teases us with the next book in the series, NARCO NOIR.
Hey, what about the Russian angle?
What, there are Russians in this book? LOL Only kidding.
Without giving away any spoilers, the Russians in RUSSIAN MOJITO insidiously find their way into every aspect of Emilia’s challenges. From her relationship with her mother, to what happens with Kurt, to multiple murders, to the huachicolero trade . . . well, you get the idea.
Mark your calendars!
23 May: Kindle pre-order
6 June: Kindle release
23 June: Paperback release
Need to catch up on Emilia’s adventures?
“A fast-paced procedural . . . a real page-turner [and] a very original plot.” — The Booklife Prize