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Hat Dance is book #2 in the Emilia Cruz crime mystery series set in Acapulco by Carmen Amato. Emilia is the very first and currently only female detective on the force, and her struggles to be accepted by her colleagues seems to be just as fierce as they were in the first novel. Her previous partner has been recently killed on the job and now she is reluctantly teamed up with Franco Silvio, a senior detective who has just as a bad attitude towards her as he is good at his job. And he is a very good detective.
Reading the Carmen Amato books in order involves catching up to the first novel, Cliff Diver. If you’ve read it, you will already know about Kurt Rucker, her gringo boyfriend, the manager of a very expensive hotel. They are out on a date at a restaurant one night where the mayor is also dining with her whole entourage. As soon as Emilia and Kurt leave the restaurant, a huge explosion almost deafens both of them and sends them flying to the pavement.
The explosion happened at that very restaurant and their lives might have literally depended on them leaving so soon. Emilia and Kurt race back to try to save any lives and help any injured, and the scene is out of a nightmare. Lots of dead and injured, including many of the mayor’s friends. The mayor herself is helped by the two of them exit the restaurant in one piece. Hurt but still alive.
Emilia is shocked, ho, ever she does have her wits about her and starts to investigate the explosion, which soon turns out to be arson, especially when more such upscale restaurants are being targeted by unknown criminals.
What she doesn’t know is whether these cases are drug related, army related, or are political assassination attempts.
At the same, time Emilia is looking for a missing girl, as part of a personal case involving missing women in Acapulco. She has a file with pictures of all the missing girls and women that she knows about, which she sadly adds to almost every day. While the cases are not related, soon Emilia has her hands full with both.
As each day passes the list of suspects in the arson case grows bigger and bigger. Most of her colleagues still have a lot of prejudice against her and refuse to help, except her partner, Silvio, who is relentless in trying to find out what happened, just as much as she is. So they reluctantly work together to solve the case.
Emilia is faced with prejudice every step of the way, and not only from her colleagues at the force. It seems every time she interviews a man, he looks down on her and shows his distaste for her being a cop. However Emilia is used to it and doesn’t let it faze her much or deter her from pursuing the criminals.
I really enjoy Emilia’s character. She is a force to be reckoned with and I wouldn’t want to be on her bad side. She is a woman with lots of stuff to deal with – starting from still getting used to the fact that she has a North American gorgeous blue eyed blond boyfriend, to having to accept Ernesto, her mother’s new love interest in her life, and having to deal with all the heavy stuff at work every single day.
Maybe that’s why she doesn’t really get intimidated by anyone – including her superiors – when it comes to solving the case, even when they not so kindly ask her to look the other day. Life made her tough and kept her straight in a world of crime, corruption and deceit. It’s a rare thing in Acapulco these days.
Emilia loves her work, loves being a detective and hates corruption with every fiber of her being. Maybe that’s why Silvio helps her and watched her back, even though he reminds her of her place on the ladder every time they talk.
The budding romance between Emilia and Kurt is so sweet and I feel Emilia needs his support at this time in her life. Maybe there is future for the two of them in store?
The author has a way with words and knows to bring Acapulco to life through the pages of the book. All the corruption reaching the highest levels of corporate and political ladder is horrible, yet the author manages to give a glimpse of the true people living there, who are not easily bought by the ones with money and in power.
Overall I loved Hat Dance just as much as Cliff Diver and I’m looking forward to start reading Diablo Nights, the third book in the Emilia Cruz mystery series.