Wednesday, November 23, 2016

VBT + #Giveaway: King Peso by Carmen Amato @CarmenConnects @GoddessFish

King Peso
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.


“Are you here to play roulette, Detective Cruz?” Duarte Ochoa asked. “You don’t have any chips.”

“No,” Emilia said. “Just the slots.”

Obregon licked his lips. “Detective Cruz is always a player,” he said. “Whether she admits it or not.”

Duarte Ochoa laughed and snapped his fingers. Out of nowhere, a young man in a King Tut costume appeared. He opened a small wooden box and offered it to the casino owner. Duarte Ochoa took out a blue chip embossed with the golden logo of the casino. Five thousand pesos. Nearly a month’s salary for Emilia. Double that for Natividad.

Emilia’s gaze travelled from the chip to King Tut. Despite the costume, which included a jeweled headdress covering his forehead, she recognized Felipe Garcia. The long hair flowed over his bare shoulders and the high cheekbones were on full display.

The sporting goods store wasn’t doing so well after all. It was too bad that Felipe had to moonlight at the El Pharaoh.

She flashed him a smile of recognition but he didn’t acknowledge her. Emilia wasn’t offended; Felipe probably had to stay in character. Duarte Ochoa dismissed him with a wave and the costumed King Tut went back to his pyramid. The casino owner held the chip between his second and third fingers as if toying with it. “Red or black, Detective Cruz?”

She certainly wasn’t picking Obregon’s favorite color. “Red,” she said.

Duarte Ochoa put the chip on the felted table. The croupier announced that bets were closed and spun the wheel. The clatter of the ball bouncing inside the wheel was louder than the grinding pop music.

“Red wins,” the croupier announced.

Duarte Ochoa smiled broadly as the croupier raked a combination of colored chips to his designated spot on the table. “Do we let it ride, Detective?” he asked Emilia.

Obregon lounged against the table, watching her with that hawkish expression on his face that always made her so nervous. If he suddenly sprouted wings and talons, Emilia would not be surprised.

“It’s your money,” she said.

Duarte Ochoa let it ride.

“Red wins,” the croupier announced again.

Another bet was placed, the wheel spun, and Duarte Ochoa won a third time. The pile in front of him grew. Emilia counted at least a dozen blue chips and an equal amount of red and yellow. A year’s salary.

“If we win on red again, we’ll share it four ways,” Duarte Ochoa said. “With champagne.”

Natividad dug her fingers into Emilia’s arm.

The wheel spun again, the ball bouncing and clattering until finally settling into a numbered slot.

“Black wins,” the croupier announced.

“Que lastima,” Duarte Ochoa said as the croupier raked away all his chips. “When you are a gambler you know that tomorrow the odds will be better. I hope you ladies are not disappointed.”

Obregon let his gaze linger on Emilia. “Don’t worry about Detective Cruz, Duarte. She knows that sometimes you win.” He licked his lips. “And sometimes you lose.”

An Interview with Carmen Amato

What inspired you to write KING PESO?

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 not only the drug cartels but 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 series, nothing is what it seems.

When or at what age did you know you wanted to be a writer?

I remember being about 5 or 6 and writing a story about a man who cut down a tree in front of our house. He was a friend of the family who had a knack for making things go wrong and the tree fell in the wrong direction! I remember being excited to read it to my mother.

What is the earliest age you remember reading your first book?

My sisters gave me a big picture book when I was about 3 or 4. Winnie the Pooh and Eeyore’s Birthday. Pooh plans to give Eeyore a pot of honey but eats all the honey. Piglet plans to give Eeyore a balloon but pops it. Both are sad until Eeyore takes the popped balloon and makes a game with the empty honey pot. I still recall that I didn’t know how to pronounce the word “pathetic” the first time I read it.

What genre of books do you enjoy reading?

I love reading mysteries, literary fiction, history, and memoirs. I especially love the Spenser series by Robert B. Parker, and the Isabel Dalhousie and Ladies No.1 Detective Agency series by Alexander McCall Smith.

What is your favorite book?

I don’t think I have one single favorite, although The Kitchen Madonna by Rumer Godden comes close. A rushed London family gets a little dose of grace when the son makes a homemade icon for their Russian housekeeper. A lovely, sweet story. I’m always looking for copies in used bookstores to give as gifts.

You know I think we all have a favorite author. Who is your favorite author and why?

P.G. Wodehouse takes the prize. I discovered this British humorist in high school and have read dozens of his books and short stories. His world is that of 1920’s England. All of his books have a tangled plot, crazy characters, and perfect phrasing (“he writhed like an electric fan”) that never grow old. My favorite is The Code of the Woosters.

If you could travel back in time here on earth to any place or time. Where would you go and why?

I would go back to the time of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. Castles, jousting, intrigue, quests. I think it would be fascinating, although I’d rather be there in summer than winter. I’m partial to central heating!

I channeled a bit of Camelot in one of my books, AWAKENING MACBETH. That’s a romantic thriller with a paranormal twist and you can check out the first chapters on Amazon’s Kindle Scout program page.

      When writing a book do you find that writing comes easy for you or is it a difficult task?

I’m an outline addict. Before I start a novel I create an outline. I scribble “scenes” on sticky notes and post them on a wall. I’ll arrange and rearrange until I like the flow at which point I’ll tape them to a poster and hang it over my desk.
That preliminary outline usually survives to about the middle of the book, at which point I’ll have had better ideas and will repeat the sticky note process. For KING PESO, I did this three times. By time the book was done, the last poster was a mess, with some stickies overwritten in red and others hidden behind a snowfall of new ones.
I tell my kids that writing is like building a chair. You know the rough shape it ahs to be and the first draft has a seat and four legs but it’s not pretty. You have to sand, stain, and polish before you have something good enough to sell.

      Do you have any little fuzzy friends? Like a dog or a cat? Or any pets?

My husband and I rescued a Shepherd-Lab mix six months ago and he now rules the house! Dutch is a real character and we’ve decided his “breed” is “attention hound.” He and I take power walks twice a day or visit the dog park where he is the social secretary.

He likes to have all my attention all the time. When I sit at my desk too long, he’ll bop me on the hip with his nose to remind me to give him some love.

We’re trying to train him not to get on the furniture but it’s an uphill battle. If only he wasn’t so darn cute.

      What is your "to die for", favorite food/foods to eat?

No surprise, because I think it a requirement for writers, but I love coffee. From that first cup in the morning to coffee ice cream for dessert, I’m a committed coffeeholic.
And yes, I do write faster with espresso.

     Do you have any advice for anyone that would like to be an author?

Two pieces of advice:
1. Don’t fall in love with your writing. Fall in love with your setting, characters, and plot, but be ready to polish your prose over and over.
2. Check points of view. Keep each character’s point of view separate.
Other than that, enjoy the journey. No matter where you are on the publishing road, there are twists and turns ahead. Enjoy them all.

To say thanks for having me in to chat. I’d like to invite everyone to stop by my website and pick up a free copy of the Detective Emilia Cruz Starter Library. The Starter Library features “The Beast,” the story about how Emilia became the first female detective in Acapulco, which was first published in The Huffington Post. You’ll also get “The Angler,” the story based on a real life murder mystery, plus the first chapters of the first three Emilia Cruz novels. As a bonus, you’ll get my monthly newsletter, Mystery Ahead.
All the best, Carmen


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

Buy link:


$50 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC

Follow the tour and comment; the more you comment, the better your chances of winning.


Goddess Fish Promotions said...

Thanks for hosting!

Mai T. said...

Do you believe in love at first sight?

Victoria Alexander said...

Great interview, I enjoyed reading it :)

DanieX said...

I can't wait to read this!

Mary Preston said...

An interesting inspiration.