Cliff Diver by Carmen Amato
carmen amato and
Living on the Edge
When Emilia Cruz, Acapulco’s first and only female police detective, dives into the investigation of a dirty cop’s death, she might just hit the rocks instead of the water. With hot nights on the beach and suspense straight out of the headlines, CLIFF DIVER and the Emilia Cruz mystery series goes inside Mexico’s drug war with a fearless style and a woman who’ll be hard to forget.
THE DEATH OF A DIRTY COP
Forced to lead the murder investigation into the death of her shady lieutenant, Emilia faces resentment from the other detectives as well as a blood-spattered crime scene, no witnesses, and the shadow of counterfeit ransom money. Reluctant to take on the investigation, Emilia soon learns that the dead lieutenant led a double life in Acapulco full of illicit sex and financial manipulation, all of which would be either red herrings or keys to the crime. Missing police files, the lieutenant’s involvement with a past kidnapping, and a possible link to a gang working for a drug cartel further combine to make this a messy case with too many loose ends.
A GAME OF MONEY AND POWER
Expecting to become a target herself because of her own brush with the lieutenant’s counterfeit scheme, Emilia must move quickly to find the killer. But as she pieces together the lieutenant’s last hours, she becomes a pawn in an ugly game of corruption, money, and power being played by the Pacific resort city’s ambitious mayor and a police union strongman with questionable motives. Luxury hotel manager Kurt Rucker has some advice for Emilia but the heat between them quickly becomes a complicating factor.
Under pressure from politicians, other cops, and the powerful union, Emilia feels like Acapulco’s famous cliff divers, plunging into suspense and praying not to crash on the rocks below. She’ll follow her instincts but will she survive if she uncovers the truth?
A WOMAN WHO CAN TAKE THE HEAT
Acapulco police detective Emilia Cruz joins John Rebus, Harry Hole, Arkady Renko, and Guido Brunetti as international fiction’s most memorable crime fighters. Emilia Cruz is a good liar, a fast thinker, a determined investigator and a mean kickboxer. An Acapulco native forced to grow up too fast, she’s been a cop for nearly 12 years and a detective for two; a strong Latina woman in a squad room that didn’t want her and is still trying to break her. But Emilia isn’t afraid to defend herself and get what she’s rightfully earned. She knows that many women in Mexico don’t get the chances she’s had and the proof is in a log she tracks of women who have gone missing.
But the one thing she doesn’t know how to handle is gringo Kurt Rucker, the manager of a luxury hotel in Acapulco. A former US Marine, he has the confidence and leadership qualities she admires. A triathlete, he’s calm under pressure and knows what he wants. But does Emilia?
THE TWO FACES OF ACAPULCO
There’s the Acapulco that tourists know; the sweep of the most beautiful bay in the world, the majesty of the clear blue Pacific, candlelit nights on the beach, and luxury hi-rises. There’s also the Acapulco that is a prize to be fought over by drug cartels–the city that is home to hookers and thieves, the streets where life is cheap and poverty is as pervasive as the wind off the ocean. Both of these versions of Acapulco claw at each other and force Emilia to survive between them. No investigation will be easy, no crime will be simple.
Carmen Amato has taken the classic mystery and given it a contemporary Mexican twist. The result is an adrenaline-charged novel with the emotional vibe of those who live on the edge. See why amazon reviewers say “Can’t wait to read the next of Amato’s novels!”
Grab a margarita and come on down to Acapulco . . . If you can take the heat.
From the Author:
The little church in Mexico City was decorated for Christmas with 100 red poinsettias. Every pew was filled, many with sleepy but excited children, for a special Christmas Eve midnight mass. Father Richard was leading us in the Prayer of the Faithful when a man staggered up the center aisle, his limbs jerking as he alternately murmured and shouted incomprehensible words. We all shrank back as he made his way towards the altar, an unexpected and volatile presence.
As the congregation looked on in growing panic, the man accosted Father Richard. The priest didn’t move or stop the prayer, just dug through his robes for a pocket. He pulled out a few pesos and pressed them into the man’s hand.
By that time several of the male congregants had come onto the altar as well and they gently propelled the drug-addled man back down the altar steps and through the church to the rear door.
Christmas mass continued and the addict remained nameless to the shaken congregation. But he stayed with all of us, evidence that Mexico’s own drug problem was growing as more and more drugs transited the country en route to the insatiable United States.
More than that, however, he reminded me of the drug war raging just outside our happy expatriate bubble. We were an American family in Mexico City, embracing a new culture, exploring a vibrant city, and meeting people who were to impact our lives for years to come. But we always knew that the bubble was fragile and as if to prove it, Mexico’s news grew worse in the new year: shootouts in major cities, multiple drug seizures, rising numbers of dead and missing, the murders of mayors, governors and journalists.
But somehow, news of what was going on in Mexico rarely pierced through to the big media outlets in the US, the country most impacted as the drug war raged on its border. US news was more concerned with domestic politics, the Middle East, Europe’s economic woes, and Lindsay Lohan. Any stories that did make it to prime time viewed Mexico’s drug war in the context of the US national debate on immigration. The real story–the toll that the drug wars were taking on the people and culture of Mexico–wasn’t getting out.
I carried my memories of Mexico with me when we left. I poured them into a new novel, bringing a fast-paced contemporary style to a Cinderella story set against the backdrop of political corruption and cartel violence. The result was the 2012 political thriller The Hidden Light of Mexico City, a story from the heart that took on both Mexico’s rigid social system and the corruption that flows from huge drug profits. The reviews made me sure that contemporary fiction could ignite popular interest in what was happening in Mexico better than the news could.
And then I met Emilia Cruz.
Well, to be honest, I wrote Emilia Cruz, the first and only female detective on the Acapulco police force and the central character in a new mystery series. Cliff Diver is the first novel in a series which will go inside Mexico’s drug war with a style that is fast and a little raw, but won’t let go of hope.
Emilia and I are in it for the long haul. We’ll see if a mystery series can raise awareness of what’s going on in Mexico, with plot elements straight out of the headlines, an authentic dive into one of the most beautiful settings on earth, and a little salsa fresca from my own years living in Mexico and Central America.
The drug addict unknowingly gave a gift that Christmas day. The Emilia Cruz series will pay it forward.