The Lizard’s Tale
by Kurt Kamm GENRE: Mystery/Crime Thriller
Kurt Kamm has written a novel that's a literary crime novel, with a strong thread of non-fiction running through it. The Lizard's Tale is a tale of crime—with an a wide-ranging cast of characters.
When the DEA goes up against the Sinaloa Cartel, an orphan and an endangered lizard are caught in the conflict. The action moves from Guatemala to Mexico to Catalina Island off the coast of California.
Alejandro, a middle class Guatemalan, wants his share, and makes a deal with the cartel. Now he’s risking his life to deliver the goods.
El Dedo, a brilliant financier, is the Sinaloa Cartel’s banker. He worries about what to do with the billions of dollars collecting dust in his underground vault.
Ryan, a DEA Special Agent, needs to make a high profile case to get a promotion. Is the big yacht headed for California carrying a Mexican drug shipment?
Kate, a wildlife officer on Catalina Island, smells smoke. When she heads out in the middle of the night to investigate a fire, she makes an astonishing discovery.
Jorge, an orphan from the streets of Mexico, is abandoned in the United States. Will he find his way back home and track down his mother’s killer?
Dedo was one of the few outsiders at the top of the cartel hierarchy. He came from a different background than most of the drug lords, who had grown up in poor towns in the Sierra Madres where people suffered a hard existence living in hovels made of cinderblocks. Dedo had no poverty to escape. He grew up in Mexico City and lived a blessed childhood. His father owned a small Mexican chemical business that grew large when it began to supply the Cartels with the ingredients used to make methamphetamine. His mother was Swiss, and had worked for a chemical company in Basle when she met his father. Dedo inherited his intellect and business sense from his father. His grey eyes came from his mother.
When his father brought him to the State of Sinaloa for the first time, Dedo stood in the dust and blasting heat and felt the moisture evaporating from his skin. “Those mountain highlands,” his father had told him, pointing off into the distance, “are ideal for growing poppies. All they need is sunlight and moisture.” Then he turned and pointed in the direction of the Pacific Ocean, and continued, “And out in those valleys between the mountains and the coast, the climate is perfect for growing marijuana.” Finally, his father looked at Dedo and told him, “Fortunately for us, sunshine and water don’t produce methamphetamine. For that, they need chemicals—a lot of chemicals—and that’s why we’re here.”
Malibu, California resident Kurt Kamm has written a series of firefighter mystery novels, which have won several literary awards. His newest novel, The Lizard’s Tale, provides a unique look inside the activities of the Mexican drug cartels and the men dedicated to stopping them.
Kurt has used his contact with CalFire, Los Angeles County and Ventura County Fire Departments, as well as the ATF and DEA to write fact-based (“faction”) novels. He has attended classes at El Camino Fire Academy and trained in wildland firefighting, arson investigation and hazardous materials response. He has also attended the ATF and DEA Citizen’s Academies. After graduating from the DEA Citizen’s Academy in 2014, he began work on The Lizard’s Tale.
Kurt has built an avid fan base among first responders and other readers. A graduate of Brown University and Columbia Law School, Kurt was previously a financial executive and semi-professional bicycle racer. He was also Chairman of the UCLA/Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center Foundation for several years.
Kurt Kamm LITERARY AWARDS
TUNNEL VISIONS (MCM Publishing 2014)
2014 USA Best Book Award -Fiction: General – Finalist
HAZARDOUS MATERIAL (MCM Publishing 2013)
Best Novel 2013 – Public Safety Writers Association
Winner of the 2012 Hackney Literary Award for best novel of the year ($5,000 PRIZE)
Reader's Favorite 2013 – Finalist – Urban Fiction
The 2012 Dana Award – Finalist
Eric Hoffer Award - Finalist (2014)
Excerpt published in Birmingham Arts Journal http://www.birminghamartsjournal.com/pdf/baj10-2.pdf
ONE FOOT IN THE BLACK (MCM Publishing 2012)
The 2012 USA Best Book Awards – Fiction: General – Finalist
The 2013 Beverly Hills Book Awards – Fiction: General – Finalist
Excerpt published in Felons, Flames and Ambulance Rides: Stories About America's Public Safety Heroes
CODE BLOOD (MCM Publishing 2011)
Writer’s Type - First Chapter Competition. January 2011- First Place
2012 International Book Awards - Fiction: Cross Genre Category – First Place
National Indie Excellence Book Awards – Faction (fiction based on fact) - Winner of the 2012 Award
The 2012 USA Best Book Awards - Fiction: Horror - Winner
LuckyCinda Publishing Contest 2013 First Place – Thriller
Reader's Favorite 2013– Finalist – Horror Fiction
Knoxville Writer’s Guild - 2011 Novella or Novel Excerpt – 2nd Place
RED FLAG WARNING Aberdeen Bay 2010
The Infinite Writer– Mystery 2010 – First Place
The Written Art Awards - Mystery/Thriller 2010 – First Place
Royal Dragonfly – Mystery Category 2011 – First Place
What would we find under your bed?
A Guatemalan Beaded Lizard lives under my bed. Please, just look at it, but don't try to touch it, because it has a poisonous bite. This reptile is on the world wildlife endangered list and it is unlawful to take it out of Guatemala. There are estimated to be only approximately 400 in existence, all in the Motagua River Valley in eastern Guatemala. The Lizard's Tale is the story of what happens when a cartel boss decides to collect one of these creatures. The legend is that this lizard brings a curse to anyone who captures it, as several of the characters in my book unfortunately learn.
I don't really have such a creature under my bed, just dust balls, a black sock, and a Jimmie Carter for President ballpoint pen.
What was the scariest moment of your life?
In 1998, was in Nepal, on the Everest side, and had spent the night in a hut at 14,000 feet. In the morning, several of my companions trekked down toward the airport (served by 25-year-old Soviet helicopters). Since I have exceptional lung capacity, I went with a guide on a further hike/climb. It was nothing technical, we were just traversing up the side of a mountain. At 16,000 feet, I was feeling a bit woozy and we stopped. The sun was out and it was an incredible day. The weather changes up there in a heartbeat, and all of a sudden, we were in the middle of fog and clouds. My guide (who spoke almost no English) led me on, upward. In the thick fog, we went over a ridge and I found myself on my hands and knees following him along a ledge that was about three feet wide. I could see nothing, but sensed that there was a huge drop down off the side of the ledge. I kept trying to ask my guide where we were going. He just kept moving. I tossed a rock out into the fog, and never heard it hit bottom. I was having trouble thinking clearly because of the altitude, and was certain I would go off the ledge. I also imagined a news report in my then hometown of Greenwich, Conn. The headline was: "Resident Killed in Fall from Nepal Mountain Ledge." The fog cleared a little and I confirmed that we were indeed on a ledge and there was a huge drop down the side of the mountain. Eventually we reached a spot where a landslide had wiped out the ledge. Huge rocks and boulders were strewn out below us down the mountain. We descended several thousand feet, climbing down through that slide, and reached a road that eventually let us back to the village from which we had started. I did not expect to come home from that foray. I was never able to determine what the guide had been thinking or whether he had been at all concerned about our situation.
Do you listen to music while writing? If so what?
I listen to light classical at a very low level. I don't like any distractions, and use the music to blot out any other sounds.
If you were to write a series of novels, what would it be about?
I have written a series of novels—five firefighter mysteries.
How long did it take you to write this book?
It took about two years to write The Lizard's Tale. It is my sixth book, and all but the first have taken about two years each. I find that the first 25% of the book takes about 50% of the time. Once I have a better idea of the plot and characters, the writing moves faster.