by Carmen Amato GENRE: police procedural mystery
KING PESO is the fourth book in the sensational Detective Emilia Cruz mystery series recently optioned for both television and film. Emilia is the first female police detective in Acapulco, where Mexican drug cartels battle for control and politicians are bought with blood money.
Three cops are murdered, execution style. Emilia worked with them all.
Her partner’s wife is killed in a home invasion. Was he the real target?
Is Emilia the next? She hopes to be assigned to a task force to investigate the killings, but is instead directed to a new police unit championed by Acapulco’s ambitious mayor and overseen by a shady union strongman. But when Emilia stumbles upon a falsified report, she will conduct a private investigation, even as another murder victim carries a stark message for her.
Home is no refuge for Emilia; hotel manager Kurt Rucker has a shocking secret that could tear their relationship apart.
Unexpected help comes from a frightened attorney and a famous movie star, but each new clue to the murders unravels the one before. Meanwhile, Emilia’s ongoing hunt for a missing girl, a continuing series subplot, leads to the infamous El Pharaoh casino, a place she knows only too well.
What do a casino and a cop killer have in common? Emilia bets on her partner, but his gamble could cost both their lives.
“I think I’m on the task force,” Emilia said. “Because I worked with all three victims.”
She’d crossed paths professionally with all three of the murder victims, although none had been a close colleague. She hadn’t even met Salinas, just talked to him a couple of times on the phone. But he’d been honest with her and done what he said he would do. A rare and rapidly disappearing commodity these days.
“Who else worked with all of them?” Kurt asked. “Silvio? What does he think?”
“Franco worked with Vega on the arson case, too.” Franco Silvio was Acapulco’s senior police detective and Emilia’s perpetually surly partner. “But he never met Salinas or Espinosa. He wasn’t invited to the meeting, either. None of the other detectives were.”
“Even Loyola?” Kurt asked.
Emilia shook her head. Loyola, who was junior to Silvio, had been made acting lieutenant of detectives several months ago. He now rarely worked cases. “Not invited. He only knew Vega from the arson case.”
“What are you telling me, Em?” Kurt paused. “That you’re a target, too?”
“I don’t know. Maybe.” Emilia stared at the lights twinkling in the dark ocean as the unseen swimming dock bobbed. “The El Trio killer could be another cop. Someone on the inside who is being specific about their victims.”
“I can’t believe you waited to tell me, Em,” Kurt said, exasperation and sudden anger in his voice. “You live here. If you’re in danger, that means everybody in this hotel is in danger. I have to know things like this.”
Emilia bristled. “I’m telling you now, aren’t I?”
Kurt turned to look at the ocean again, elbows propped on top of the wall. “I guess what I’m trying to say is that I wish you were invested enough in us . . . in this relationship . . . to tell me things when they happen. Not a week later. Because you’re thinking how things impact us. Not just you.”
Emilia concentrated on the pinpoints of light out in the bay. Why did they keep having the same conversation and why was it always so hard?
Carmen Amato is the author of romantic thrillers and the Detective Emilia Cruz mystery series set in Acapulco which was recently optioned for film. Originally from New York, her experiences in Mexico and Central America inspire many of her books. For a copy of the Detective Emilia Cruz Starter Library, visit her website at carmenamato.net
Follow her on Twitter @CarmenConnects.
What inspired you to write this book?
First, thanks so much for having me and inviting me to meet your readers! I’d like to virtually introduce everybody to Emilia Cruz. She’s the first female police detective in Acapulco, which means she’s up against the drug cartels and Mexico’s culture of machismo. But as I always say, she can take the heat.
KING PESO is the 4th mystery in the Detective Emilia Cruz series. There’s a cop killer on the loose in Acapulco and Emilia has worked with all of the victims. So is she next? But as usual in the Detective Emilia Cruz police procedural series, nothing is what it seems.
I began the Detective Emilia Cruz series after being confronted with an armed drug addict on Christmas Eve a few years ago. At the time, my family lived in Mexico City and we were attending the midnight Mass in our Catholic church when the ceremony was disrupted by a man who came in shouting incoherently and waving a gun. We were all shocked to see him make his way up the center aisle and accost our pastor, Father Richard.
Without skipping a beat, Father Richard found a few pesos and gave them to the man, who settled down. Parishioners came forward, took away the gun, and escorted the addict out of the church. Mass went on.
Back in the US, I wondered if fiction could show what is happening in Mexico. I was recently on NPR’s Alt.Latino show and host Felix Contreras asked me what does Detective Emilia Cruz represent? My answer is that Emilia represents hope for better times ahead for Mexico.
I’d like to invite readers to find out how Emilia Cruz came to be the first female police detective in Acapulco with a free copy of the Detective Emilia Cruz Starter Library. You’ll also get my monthly email newsletter, Mystery Ahead.
Thanks for having me and happy reading. All the best, Carmen