Welcome to another edition of the Mystery Ahead newsletter, delivered fresh to you every other Sunday, with #booknews, exclusive #excerpts, and #reviews of must-read mysteries. 


The Listmaker of Acapulco1. NEW RELEASE!

The last few editions of this newsletter have featured excerpts from a Detective Emilia Cruz tale entitled “Acapulco Black Book.” Well, it has grown into a Kindle Single, with a new title and expanded plot!

THE LISTMAKER OF ACAPULCO: A Detective Emilia Cruz Novella, will be released for Kindle on 24 June. Like FELIZ NAVIDAD FROM ACAPULCO, this novella is a companion to the full-length Detective Emilia Cruz novels.

In THE LISTMAKER OF ACAPULCO, a black notebook and a man with nine fingers draw Emilia into a maze of mistaken identities and rival drug gangs.

I’m so excited to share Emilia’s latest case with you!

What do you think of the cover?


2. Back Editions of Mystery Ahead

In case you ever need to catch up with your reading, you can find “lite” versions of this newsletter on my website’s blog page. The lite versions may not carry all the links of the email version due to expired sales, etc.

Find back editions here: https://carmenamato.net/shop-talk. Look for the #newsletter category.



THE LISTMAKER OF ACAPULCO: A Detective Emilia Cruz Novella,

coming 24 June.

Emilia found Raquel Lopez Amador, wearing a dirty checkered apron as she minced onions into white mush in the back of a taqueria.

The address Raquel had given when she identified the remains of Julio Lira Valdez turned out to be a two-story clump of cinderblocks washed with urine-colored paint. Upstairs, laundry flapped from a clothesline strung across the façade. Sheets and underwear rubbed against peeling storm shutters and tears of rust from a propane tank on the flat roof.

The taqueria occupied the ground floor. Iron security grilles covered both windows, but an attempt had been made to dress up the place with a red doorframe. Geraniums in a cracked pot served as a doorstop.

Taqueria Numero 7 was painted over the entrance.

Emilia wondered if this was the owner’s seventh try at running an eatery. More likely it was the seventh identical taqueria on this side of the street.

The interior of the restaurant was the same as a million other small places in Acapulco. Four scuffed plastic tables, each ringed by four white plastic chairs. The stub of a pencil on every table to fill in a pre-printed pad of menu choices, few of which were on a chalkboard advertising what was actually available.

Arroz con mariscos. Rice with seafood.

Tacos mariscos. Seafood tacos.

Ensalada rosa. Pink salad.

Better not to ask.



DEL RIO book review

DEL RIO by Jane Rosenthal

Jane Rosenthal joins the small but vital community of authors using fiction to reveal the complexity and heartbreak of the US-Mexico relationship. DEL RIO confronts the issues of human trafficking and migrant labor and delivers a compelling story rooted in empathy and authenticity.

Del Rio, California, has fallen on hard times, thanks to cartels on the other wide of the US-Mexico border. Hometown girl Callie McCall is now the local district attorney, a tough cookie aiming for higher political office.

A dismembered teen is found on the edge of a citrus grove. It’s on Callie’s watch and she shoulders the responsibility. The case sends Callie deep into Mexico, pursuing facts no one wants exposed, least of all her own landowning family and devious ex-husband.

She’ll get unexpected help from Nathan, a widower who has been tricked into working as a tour guide to provide cover for a cartel boss. Together, they survive a gruesome “warning” in the form of mangled bodies and begin to unravel a complex tangle of money and crime.

The thriller moves between Callie’s first-person point of view and Nathan’s narrative, allowing the intricate plot to unfold without confusion. Callie’s family is a big part of the trouble and having her chapters tell it directly is a clever device.

I really liked the character development throughout the book. Both Callie and Nathan learn troubling but impactful lessons about themselves. Callie’s ambition and Nathan’s self-pity are cast off as they encounter drugs, murder, and human smuggling and we like them all the better for it. A supporting cast of secondary characters pop with authentic descriptions and plot-twisting tricks.

The scope of the story, breadth of character motives, and clever narrative style resonate long after the last page is turned. This is such a timely book.

Get DEL RIO on Amazon here.

3 volume Starter Library by crime writer Carmen Amato

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