I’m bringing you as today’s guest author another writer I met through Twitter, who has been kind enough to agree to talk to us not only about her current novels and the coming ones in the Emilia  Cruz series, but also provides an insight into readers’ interests when looking at mystery novels. What are the most important elements of a mystery novel? Carmen decided to ask her readers. I leave you with Carmen Amato.

Carmen Amato’s Personal MysteryCarmen%20Amato

I recently asked readers on kindleboards.com which elements they found most important to a good mystery novel. Their choices were:

A. Flawed and complex characters (i.e John Rebus, Harry Hole)

B. Twisted plots that take precedence over character development

C. An unusual setting (i.e the Arkady Renko series set in Russia)

D.  Sense of humor (i.e. the Stephanie plum books)

E. Authentic forensic information (i.e. books by Patricia Cornwell)

The digital discussion was lively. The overwhelming majority of respondents voted for A and B. Readers want to see intriguing characters and plots that leave them wondering what will come next. Many felt that the two went together rather than having one predominate.

As a mystery writer I couldn’t agree more. Those two central concepts drive my mystery series featuring Emilia Cruz, the first and only female detective on the Acapulco police force. Drawing on my own experiences living in Mexico and Central America, the series takes on Mexico’s drug war and official corruption against the backdrop of the country’s rich cultural heritage.

The series launched last August with the Kindle exclusive novella MADE IN ACAPULCO and continues with the full-length mystery novel CLIFF DIVER which will be released to Kindle and in print on 30 January. The next book in the series is HAT DANCE, scheduled for release in summer 2013.

Here’s what the Emilia Cruz series has in store not only for kindleboard.com fans but for all mystery lovers:

The Main Character

The series is as raw and action-filled as the headlines coming out of Mexico today but just like the country, Emilia Cruz is both resilient and warm-hearted. An Acapulco native who had to grow up too fast, she’s been a cop for nearly 12 years and a detective for two; a woman in a squadroom that didn’t want her and is still seeking to break her. But Emilia isn’t afraid to defend herself and get what she’s rightfully earned. She’s a good liar, a fast thinker, a determined investigator and a mean kickboxer.

And she’s lonely.

Interesting Secondary Characters

Emilia doesn’t know how to handle gringo Kurt Rucker, the manager of a luxury hotel in Acapulco. A former soldier, he has the confidence and leadership qualities she admires. A triathlete, he’s calm under pressure and knows what he wants. But is Emilia ready for a relationship?

Her first high profile case will bring Emilia to the attention of Victor Obregon Sosa, the head of the police union for the state of Guerrero, and Acapulco’s ambitious mayor Carlota Mendoza Perez. Each has a dangerous personal agenda and the power to both help or hurt Emilia.

As an added fillip to the character line-up, there’s a revolving door in the detective squadroom and a different lieutenant will be in charge in each book.

Twisted Plots

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 will feature in the books, each clawing at the other and forcing Emilia to survive between them. No investigation will be easy, no crime will be simple.

The Special Sauce

A mystery series often has an extra bite if there is a continuing thread resolved only in the last book and the Emilia Cruz series is no exception. Throughout the series, Emilia keeps a log of women who have gone missing in Acapulco and she is always trying to find out what happened to them. They are las perdidas—the lost—and we’ll see how successful she can be.


Enjoy the following excerpt and we’ll see you in Acapulco!


The diver stretched to his full extension then pushed off. His back arched and his arms went wide and he looked like a crucifix as he sailed over the rocks. His arms rose over his head and his hands came together right before he impacted with the water. A spume of froth shot skywards and he disappeared into the depths as the crowd on the plaza gasped and applauded.

The diver popped out of the water beyond the rocks and the crowd applauded again. It took a few minutes before the next diver climbed onto the tiny platform on the cliff face. He was older, with a black suit and a heavy torso, and a less athletic look than the first diver. When he carefully turned his back to the ocean the crowd murmured excitedly.

“He’s got guts,” Kurt said. The back of his hand brushed against hers.

The diver launched backwards off the cliff face and twisted in the air. As his body rotated close to the cliff the crowd gasped, but he made a clean entry into the ocean, the water rippling out around him. The applause was wild.

As the sun set, they watched the other men laboriously climb up the cliff face to the small natural platform, stretch and limber their muscles, and dive past the rocks to the perfect spot in the ocean far below.

“That’s me,” Emilia said as the youngest diver in the red suit stood poised on the platform again. The sinking sun was blood-streaked behind him, blotting out his swimsuit so that he looked naked and raw.

“What do you mean?” Kurt asked. His hand turned and a finger stroked the inside of Emilia’s thumb and forefinger.

“That’s me.” Emilia’s hand turned of its own accord and gently played with Kurt’s. He was looking at her, not at the cliff divers, and Emilia heard herself babble nervously. “Going off a cliff, not ready for it. Not knowing if I’m going to hit the rocks and be smashed to pieces or not.”

Emilia watched as the young diver swung his arms and rolled his neck and she wondered if he was doing it for the crowd’s benefit or if it was a release for his fear. He hunched his shoulders forward, then pulled them back. His knees bent and his thigh muscles rippled and then he launched himself into the air. For a moment he was silhouetted against the spectacular sunset and then he curled himself into a somersault. The crowd gasped in unison as his body rotated and his hair seemed to kiss the cliff face. Then he stretched out, straining for distance, and completed a soaring arc that plunged him into the water like an arrow shot from a bow and Emilia felt the strain and the pain and the rush of cold water.

Thank you very much for reading and thanks to Carmen for the mouthwatering excerpt from her novel and also for her insights into her creative methods.


I have two announcements. You’ll be pleased to hear that I have two guests in my blog next week. My Friday guest is an author and dear Twitter friend and we’ve plenty of laughs in the last few months. I had to bring him here. My guest Tuesday is an artist whom I also met through Twitter, but he does not write books…Hopefully if technology doesn’t fail me this would be quite a different post to my usual ones as it will involve….music!

Before I forget…You must recall my post about blog of the Year 2012. Lovely Jenna Brooks has returned the favour and given me another star. Now, I’m not promising you it will be here because as I was telling you technology isn’t my strong point. But just in case I don’t manage…now I have 2 stars!


And of course I had to leave you with a reminder of my offerings.

‘The Man Who Never Was’



And don’t forget my new series of novellas, Escaping Psychiatry about a psychiatrist and writer and her adventures.

‘Cannon Fodder’ (Escaping Psychiatry part 1)



‘Teamwork’ (Escaping Psychiatry part 2)

Teamwork2 V 0065


And ‘Memory’ (Escaping Psychiatry Part 3)



Thank you for reading!