Hello, I'm Carmen Amato.

Mystery author. Former CIA intelligence officer.

Expect secrets, lies, and murder in my intrigue-filled crime fiction.

You know how it is. A little something for everyone.


Murder at the Galliano Club


Coming Soon!

The first book in the new Galliano Club series takes you to upstate New York during Prohibition.

It's hard to get a beer but there's plenty of murder, blackmail, and revenge on tap in this 3-book series inspired by my grandfather's stories.

Read all about the new series on the Galliano Club thriller series page.

Get NarcoNoir on Amazon


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

Find Russian Mojito on Amazon


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!

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

Inside my CIA Career: Secrets of Great Dialogue

Inside my CIA Career: Secrets of Great Dialogue

Competing Motivations As happened so many times over the course of a 30-year CIA career, I was either a participant or an observer in a dialogue. Not the conversation that happens when you are both talking about the same thing or want the same thing, but a...

read more
Inside my CIA Career: Make it “Actionable”

Inside my CIA Career: Make it “Actionable”

CIA career During my 30-year CIA career, it was always impressed upon me that we were stewards of the taxpayer’s money. With that in mind, there was effort to make sure the CIA and sister agencies got value for the money when it came to intelligence collection....

read more
Inside my CIA Career: The Moving Picture Show

Inside my CIA Career: The Moving Picture Show

Thanks to my CIA Career If you’ve read the last few books in the Detective Emilia Cruz police series set in Acapulco, you may have noticed that video plays an important role in providing clues and solving the mystery. In 43 MISSING, the footage from police interviews...

read more


Carmen Amato

A recipient of both the National Intelligence Award and the Career Intelligence Medal, Carmen Amato 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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