Sunday Book Review – Made in Acapulco – The Emilia Cruz Series

Welcome to my Sunday Book Review. I came across this series when the title grabbed me in a list of free books for the day I receive from Reading Deals. As a person who loves Mexico and has been to Acapulco many moons ago, and knowing how Acapulco, once the number one party vacation destination has sadly, turned dangerous to visit this past decade, I was curious to read this crime/mystery series. This book, Made in Acapulco – The Emilia Cruz Series is a prequel to the rest of Amato’s 8 book series, and I believe it is perma-free as an introduction with short stories from some of the other books in the series. The author Carmen Amato is an ex CIA officer! I love police procedural mystery solving and Amato brings it plus, through Emilia’s tough, smart and sexy character in a world full of dirty cops and criminals.




Acapulco never had a female police detective before . . . And nobody wants one now.

How did Emilia Cruz fight to become the first female police detective in Acapulco? This collection of prequel stories goes behind the scenes of the award-winning police series!


“A thrilling series” — National Public Radio


MADE IN ACAPULCO is a collection of 5 stories that introduce Emilia Cruz, the first and only female detective on the Acapulco police force, and her first cases:

The Beast captures Emilia’s struggle to become the first female police detective in Acapulco. It previously appeared in The Huffington Post’s 50 Featured Fiction showcase.

The Disappeared sees Emilia search for a friend who goes missing. Those who have gone missing amid Mexico’s drug war violence is a continuing theme throughout the mystery series.

The Artist was inspired by Mexican poet Javier Sicilia’s efforts to bring awareness to the plight of families impacted by the drug war violence and references photos of some of the rallies held in Mexico in recent years.

The Date explores the downside of a job that pits Emilia against Mexico’s enduring culture of machismo, while also drawing on real events that occurred in a nightclub in Mexico in 2006.

The Cliff is the original Emilia Cruz story. Written for a literary critique group, the story introduces hotel manager Kurt Rucker. It became the first chapter of CLIFF DIVER, the first Emilia Cruz novel.

Grab your copy today

With hot nights on the beach and suspense straight out of the news, the series goes inside Mexico’s drug war with a fearless style and a woman who will be hard to forget.

Poison Cup award for Outstanding Series — CrimeMasters of America

Author Carmen Amato is a former CIA intelligence officer who uses her own counterdrug and espionage experiences to craft intrigue-filled crime fiction that keeps you guessing until the very end. Amato is a recipient of both the National Intelligence Award and the Career Intelligence Medal.

If you love international police procedural series by Ian Rankin, Jo Nesbo, Ann Cleeves, Peter May, Louise Penny, and Jussi Adler-Olsen, you’ll want to read the Detective Emilia Cruz series. It’s a must-read for fans of Don Winslow’s cartel and border thrillers set in Mexico.


“Consistently exciting.” ― Kirkus Reviews

“Emilia . . . is a force to be reckoned with.” ―

“Amato’s unique setting, realistic characters, and intriguing plot set her apart.” ―

“Danger and betrayal never more than a few pages away.” ― Kirkus Reviews

“A thrill to crime-loving aficionados.” – Latina Book Club

“Astounding.” – Nightstand Reviews

The Detective Emilia Cruz series


My 5 Star Review:

Detective Emilia Cruz is the protagonist of the series, and it didn’t take long for me to get hooked. This prequel gives us the beginnings background of how she made detective in a city where the cartel have infiltrated, in a male dominant police force where it’s difficult to learn who is corrupt and who to trust. In this 8 book series, I believe they are each stand alone stories featuring Detective Cruz, and this prequel will give you enough background history to for reading the books randomly.  Emilia is a brave female cop in a man’s world facing having to deal with some gruesome crimes – murders, kidnappings, and counterfeits, and often not knowing who she can trust both, at work and in her personal life.

The scenery descriptions are beautiful as is Acapulco, makes me sad of the political happenings that changed the landscape from the fun, safe party vacation town to a dangerous place for tourists. Amato keeps the stories interesting with pace and action, and rich and authentic descriptions of locations and real events.

These short stories kept me glued with wondering – how do you know if you can trust your own colleagues? I am looking forward to reading more in this series as two of Amato’s books already await me.


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29 thoughts on “Sunday Book Review – Made in Acapulco – The Emilia Cruz Series

  1. The cover is spectacular! Your review and also plaudits from Kirkus Review and NPR are compelling. I like the line: “Acapulco never had a female police detective before . . . And nobody wants one now.” Thanks for introducing me to Carmen’s series, Debby!


  2. Looks like a great intro to the series Debby.. Do enjoy crime thrillers… I was in Acapulco in 1986 with some girl friends and at a night club was approached by a heavy on behalf of a silver headed guy sitting at one of the tables with his entourage around him. He invited us all to go on his yacht the next day for a sail.. Being the oldest I declined saying that we were leaving in the morning which we weren’t. When we got back to the hotel that night and put the lights on.. dozens.. make that millions of cockroaches made for the skirting boards and disappeared.. We kept the lights on all night and then moved into one of the newer hotels just outside the city used by the airlines.. which was thankfully free of both 6 and 2 legged unwanted visitors…♥♥


    1. Wow Sal, it’s quite possible we were there at the same time, lol! You were brave to book a hotel that wasn’t 5 stars. I learned early that 5 stars back then were comparable to our 3 star rating hotels and got worse from there. I was there 5 or 6 times throughout the 80s and always stayed at the Acapulco Plaza – a happening spot! Many of those almost scary stories to share too, considering I always went with girlfriends. Where were you woman! 🙂 ❤ xx


  3. So many accolades for this book. Debby. I too am intrigued by the police procedural details as well as the main character being a female in a male dominated world. Your review is tantalizing. Cool cover too!


  4. Acapulco sounds like rather an awful place with its rampant crime. The perfect setting for a crime thriller. A great review.


    1. Thanks Robbie. Sadly, what I remember of Acapulco was a beautiful locale and find it sad what has become of it. Certain states in Mexico are heavily run by cartel, but not the majority of them. One has to learn to become a savvy traveler before adventuring, learning where is safe and where is not. But I love Mexico. 🙂


  5. Thanks for this great review, Debby. I appreciate learning about this author and your encouraging review as well as all the accolades the author has received has captured my attention.
    BTW, your blog is wonderful and very attractive so I wouldn’t worry about changing to the wp block editor right now. In searching for a how-to regarding the block editor I just read that one has until 2022 before this editor is fully implemented. So no need to rush. 🙂


    1. Thanks so much for your lovely comments and the info Carol. I have no interest in learning in 2022 either, lol. I’m having enough problems as usual. Today I can’t see comments in the WP Notifier, so a new project to keep me busy to find a fix. Always something. Thank you my friend. ❤


  6. Hi Debby,

    Great review, as always, and this entire series sounds compelling! I love strong female protagonists and gorgeous settings, especially tropical. I’ve never been to Acapulco, but I picture it to be the vacation party spot you described. 🙂 I’ll add the series to my TBR list. Thanks for sharing and Congratulations to Carmen. 💗


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