A clever Mexican detective tale that will leave readers eager for the series’ next installment.

Cliff Diver

AN EMILIA CRUZ NOVEL

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.

Pub Date: Jan. 30, 2013

ISBN: 978-1482308044

Page Count: 316

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: April 19, 2013

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Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.

A CONSPIRACY OF BONES

Another sweltering month in Charlotte, another boatload of mysteries past and present for overworked, overstressed forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan.

A week after the night she chases but fails to catch a mysterious trespasser outside her town house, some unknown party texts Tempe four images of a corpse that looks as if it’s been chewed by wild hogs, because it has been. Showboat Medical Examiner Margot Heavner makes it clear that, breaking with her department’s earlier practice (The Bone Collection, 2016, etc.), she has no intention of calling in Tempe as a consultant and promptly identifies the faceless body herself as that of a young Asian man. Nettled by several errors in Heavner’s analysis, and even more by her willingness to share the gory details at a press conference, Tempe launches her own investigation, which is not so much off the books as against the books. Heavner isn’t exactly mollified when Tempe, aided by retired police detective Skinny Slidell and a host of experts, puts a name to the dead man. But the hints of other crimes Tempe’s identification uncovers, particularly crimes against children, spur her on to redouble her efforts despite the new M.E.’s splenetic outbursts. Before he died, it seems, Felix Vodyanov was linked to a passenger ferry that sank in 1994, an even earlier U.S. government project to research biological agents that could control human behavior, the hinky spiritual retreat Sparkling Waters, the dark web site DeepUnder, and the disappearances of at least four schoolchildren, two of whom have also turned up dead. And why on earth was Vodyanov carrying Tempe’s own contact information? The mounting evidence of ever more and ever worse skulduggery will pull Tempe deeper and deeper down what even she sees as a rabbit hole before she confronts a ringleader implicated in “Drugs. Fraud. Breaking and entering. Arson. Kidnapping. How does attempted murder sound?”

Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9821-3888-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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A mystery overflowing with local color, holiday charm, appended recipes, and plans for themed parties.

TWISTED TEA CHRISTMAS

A week before Christmas, Charleston society is shocked by the murder of one of their own.

Tea shop owner Theodosia Browning and her sommelier, Drayton Conneley, are catering a Victorian-themed party at the home of wealthy and beloved society doyenne Miss Drucilla when their client is murdered almost before their eyes, her rings stripped from her fingers, and a valuable Renoir stolen. Theodosia has plenty of experience with murder and a fairly good relationship with grouchy Detective Burt Tidwell. Even though he prefers that she stay out of his investigations, she can’t ignore the pleas of Miss Drucilla’s assistant to investigate and does some snooping between putting on several fabulous Christmas-themed tea parties. Most of Miss Drucilla’s money was earmarked for various charities jockeying for her attention. With her police officer boyfriend out of town, Theodosia finds herself unprotected when her sleuthing apparently attracts the killer’s attention, and she has some narrow escapes. With Drayton as her reluctant sidekick, she uses all her contacts to help dig up some motives. In the end her investigation literally goes to the dogs, who may be the most gifted sleuths of all.

A mystery overflowing with local color, holiday charm, appended recipes, and plans for themed parties.

Pub Date: Oct. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-20086-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Berkley

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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