by Carmen Amato
November 1-30, 2021 Virtual Book Tour
Acapulco’s first female police detective dives into an ocean of secrets, lies, and murder when she investigates her own lieutenant’s death.
In this explosive start to the award-winning Detective Emilia Cruz mystery series set in Acapulco, Emilia beat the odds to become the resort city’s first female police detective. But she’s living in a pressure cooker. Other detectives are scheming to push her out and the police department is riddled with corruption and drug cartel influence.
When the lieutenant is murdered, Emilia is assigned to lead the investigation. Soon the man’s sordid sex life, money laundering, and involvement in a kidnapping double-cross combine to create an ugly mess no one wants exposed. The high profile murder case could wreck Emilia’s career. When another detective–Emilia’s worst enemy in the squadroom–emerges as the prime suspect, keeping her job might be the least of her worries.
Readers who love international mystery series crime fighters including Armand Gamache, Harry Hole, Guido Brunetti, and the Department Q series will also love Detective Emilia Cruz’s complex plots, pulse-pounding suspense, and exotic location. Perfect for lovers of detective fiction by Ian Rankin, Jo Nesbo, and Peter May, as well as Don Winslow’s Mexican cartel and border thrillers.
— Kirkus Reviews
“A wonderful crime mystery”
Poison Cup award, Outstanding Series 2019 and 2020
— CrimeMasters of America
Genre: Mystery, Police Procedural
Published by: Laurel & Croton
Publication Date: September 2021 (first published January 27, 2013)
Number of Pages: 302
ISBN: 1482308045 (ISBN13: 9781482308044)
Series: Emilia Cruz Mysteries #1
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads
Read an excerpt:
Carmen Amato turns lessons from a 30-year career with the Central Intelligence Agency into crime fiction loaded with intrigue and deception.”
Her award-winning Detective Emilia Cruz mystery series pits the first female police detective in Acapulco against Mexico’s drug cartels, government corruption, and social inequality.
Described as “A thrilling series” by National Public Radio, the Detective Emilia Cruz series was awarded the Poison Cup for Outstanding Series from CrimeMasters of America in both 2019 and 2020 and has been optioned for television.
Originally from upstate New York, Carmen was educated there as well as in Virginia and Paris, France, while experiences in Mexico and Central America ignited her writing career.
Her family tree includes a mayor, a Mensa genius, and the first homicide in the state of Connecticut with an automatic weapon. The perpetrator, her great-grandfather, eluded a state-wide manhunt after killing two people–one of whom was his wife. He was never brought to justice. Carmen is a recipient of both the National Intelligence Award and the Career Intelligence Medal.
Grab a free copy of the Detective Emilia Cruz Starter Library at CarmenAmato.net.
You’ll see why Amazon Hall of Fame reviewer Grady Harp wrote: “For pure entertainment and a gripping story likely resulting in nail biting, read Carmen Amato’s addictive prose. She knows this territory like a jaguar!”
What was the inspiration for this book?
CLIFF DIVER is the first novel in the Detective Emilia Cruz mystery series about the first female police detective in Acapulco.
After living in Mexico and Central America for many years, I wanted to create a female character who faced all the pressures that region of the world brings to bear on women. Making her a police detective meant that she lives in a pressure cooker created by drug cartels, official corruption, and Mexico’s culture of machismo.
Add a relationship with Kurt Rucker, manager of Acapulco’s most luxurious hotel, and it’s a receipt for not only secrets, lies, and murder, but a little romance, too.
What has been the biggest challenge in your writing career?
The biggest challenge has been to loosen up my writing. As an intelligence officer with the Central Intelligence Agency for 30 years, I learned to write intelligence reports focusing on truth, predictions and precision. Those reports use qualifiers like “almost certainly” and “reportedly.”
But in fiction you make things up! I’ve learned to leave those qualifiers behind.
Writing fast-moving fiction dialogue, especially the arguments between Emilia and senior detective Franco Silvio has been terrific fun. They’re constantly pushing each other’s buttons and reveling in the reaction.
What do you absolutely need while writing?
The first is sticky notes, which I use to create outlines and jot reminders.
The second is writing time without interruption. Much harder to find.
For years, my kids dropped in so frequently while I was trying to write that I always had a spot for them. When they were in high school we called it the therapy chair!
Now one of our 3 dogs keeps me company. Dutch is a great sleeper, so he is always welcome to spend the afternoon curled up by my desk.
Do you adhere to a strict routine when writing or write when the ideas are flowing?
I write 3-4 hours a day. I always have a work-in-progress, plus blog posts or a newsletter to finish.
If I get stuck, I hit the pool or walking trail. A fresh idea or approach always shakes loose.
Who is your favorite character from your book and why?
Emilia Cruz is the main character in the series (CLIFF DIVER, HAT DANCE, DIABLO NIGHTS, KING PESO, PACIFIC REAPER, 43 MISSING, RUSSIAN MOJITO, NARCO NOIR) and she’s the most iconic character I’ve ever created.
Host of NPR’s ALT.Latino radio show Felix Contreras wrote that “Carmen Amato has created a character that deserves to be recognized as an equal alongside well known favorites by created by Hammett, Larson and Padura. I can’t wait to spend more time with Detective Cruz.”
That sort of commentary makes me sure that Emilia and I are on the right track.
She’s a woman in a male-dominated field, in a country where women lag far behind men when it comes to almost every indicator like salary, education, and senior-level jobs. But Emilia is smart, daring, and a little bit dishonest, as she clings to a tough but critical job; even as she deals with family secrets and her own frustrating inability to commit to a close personal relationship.
Tell us why we should read your book.
If you love mystery series with a strong female main character, then CLIFF DIVER and the rest of the Detective Emilia Cruz series is for you!
Readers who enjoy international crime fiction by Jo Nesbo, Peter May, Ann Cleeves, and Louise Penny, as well as Mexico-themed books like AMERICAN DIRT love the Detective Emilia Cruz series.
To give you an idea of reader reaction to the series, CLIFF DIVER has over 400 reviews with an average rating of 4.6 out of 5 stars on Amazon. Kirkus Reviews called it “Consistently exciting.”
Give us an interesting fun fact or a few about your book?
Some of the action in CLIFF DIVER takes place at the fictional Palacio Real hotel on the east side of Acapulco Bay. The hotel is a combination of my three favorite hotels in Mexico: Hacienda los Laureles in Oaxaca, the Sheraton Maria Isabel in Mexico City, and the Camino Real in Acapulco.
The hotel’s Pasodoble Bar is to the series what Olivier’s Bistro is to the Armand Gamache series by Louise Penny. A gathering place where mysteries are plotted and solved over great food and drinks.
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
You can get a free copy of the Detective Emilia Cruz Starter Library on my website at https://carmenamato.net/starter-library/
You’ll get The Beast, the story that describes how Emilia landed her job as the first female police detective in Acapulco. It was originally published in Huffpost’s Fiction 50 Showcase.
Next, you’ll get The Angler, a story based on a true murder in Mexico City in 2007. The victim was my parish priest.
Finally, you’ll get the exclusive Who’s Who Guide to the series.
Tell us a little about yourself and your background?
I spent 30 years as an intelligence officer with the Central Intelligence Agency, retiring as head of one of the national intelligence tradecraft schools. I write about my career from time to time on my blog at https://carmenamato.net/shop-talk.
Writing the Detective Emilia Cruz series is my second career and I’m loving every minute of it.
What’s next that we can look forward to?
In addition to more books in the Detective Emilia Cruz mystery series set in Acapulco, I’m working on a 3-book Galliano Club thriller series based on my grandfather’s tales of working as a deputy sheriff of Oneida County, New York, during Prohibition. I have his ledgers from his time as City Marshall of Rome, New York, as well.
It’s hard to get a beer in 1926 but there’s plenty of murder, blackmail, and revenge on tap at the Galliano Club!
The Galliano Club thrillers will be released in mid-2022.
Catch Up With Carmen:
BookBub – @CarmenAmato
Instagram – @authorcarmenamato
Facebook – @authorcarmenamato
Visit these other great hosts on this tour for more great reviews, interviews, guest posts, and giveaways!