From the Author
As the congregation looked on in growing panic, the man accostedFather Richard. The priest didn't move or stop the prayer, just dug through hisrobes for a pocket. He pulled out a few pesos and pressed them into the man'shand.
By that time several of the male congregants had come ontothe altar as well and they gently propelled the drug-addled man back down thealtar steps and through the church to the rear door.
Christmas mass continued and the addict remained nameless tothe shaken congregation. But he stayed with all of us, evidence that Mexico'sown drug problem was growing as more and more drugs transited the country enroute to the insatiable United States.
More than that, however, he reminded me of the drug warraging just outside our happy expatriate bubble. We were an American family inMexico City, embracing a new culture, exploring a vibrant city, and meetingpeople who were to impact our lives for years to come. But we always knew thatthe bubble was fragile and as if to prove it, Mexico's news grew worse in thenew year: shootouts in major cities, multiple drug seizures, rising numbers ofdead and missing, the murders of mayors, governors and journalists.
But somehow, news of what was going on in Mexico rarely piercedthrough to the big media outlets in the US, the country most impacted as thedrug war raged on its border. US news was more concerned with domesticpolitics, 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 debateon immigration. The real story--the toll that the drug wars were taking on thepeople and culture of Mexico--wasn't getting out.
I carried my memories of Mexico with me when we left. Ipoured them into a new novel, bringing a fast-paced contemporary style to aCinderella story set against the backdrop of political corruption and cartelviolence. 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 thecorruption that flows from huge drug profits. The reviews made me sure thatcontemporary fiction could ignite popular interest in what was happening inMexico better than the news could.
And then I met Emilia Cruz.
Well, to be honest, I wroteEmilia Cruz, the first and only female detective on the Acapulco police forceand the central character in a new mystery series. CliffDiver is the first novel in a series which will go inside Mexico's drug warwith 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 amystery series can raise awareness of what's going on in Mexico, with plot elementsstraight out of the headlines, an authentic dive into one of the most beautifulsettings on earth, and a little salsafresca from my own years living inMexico and Central America.
The drug addict unknowingly gave a gift that Christmas day.The Emilia Cruz series will pay it forward.