Emilia Cruz, Acapulco’s first-ever female detective, investigates a police lieutenant’s murder and tracks down counterfeit bills in the second installment of Amato’s (Made In Acapulco, 2012) mystery series.
Cruz, a junior detective in the Mexican tourist town, spends her days responding to dispatch calls and navigating the corrupt, sexist world of the Mexican police force. After a seemingly routine assignment explodes into a dangerous cliffside car chase and firefight, Emilia’s life begins to unravel. Her lieutenant is mysteriously and brutally murdered on his own speedboat, and an intimidating, black-suited man from the police union suddenly promotes her to acting lieutenant—and informs her she’ll be reporting only to him. As she desperately tries to piece together the shattered remnants of various cases—a child rescued from a horrific kidnapping, a counterfeit money scheme, cartel drug wars—the mayor’s office pressures the department to solve the lieutenant’s murder. Meanwhile, Emilia’s personal problems include a delusional mother and a handsome American hotel manager whom she’s scared to let herself fall in love with. The danger escalates as every one of her colleagues becomes a suspect. The author has a good sense of when to pause the action to let the reader take in the scenic beauty of Acapulco and effectively provides the flavor of the city. A finely tuned mix of Spanish vocabulary peppers the text, which devotes special attention to authentic Mexican food and fashion, adding an enjoyable layer to the fast-moving plot. While the prose isn’t groundbreaking or particularly inventive, the author places her characters in a consistently exciting, though very plausible plot. Although a few relationships remain underdeveloped, readers will likely close the book satisfied by a well-told story.
A clever Mexican detective tale that will leave readers eager for the series’ next installment.