Crackles like a fast-traveling fire, immersing its reader in a time and place long gone. Impressions and incidents fly at us, sometimes perhaps a hair too quickly (The Best Bad Things might benefit from a few more moments in which Alma, and the reader, can breathe) but intoxicatingly so ... Carrasco is a gifted wordsmith...and an imaginative storyteller ... irresistibly toggling between crime fiction and literary novel...a swaggering introduction to this heroine; here’s hoping she’ll return soon.
Carrasco’s prose, which is so evocative it ignites all the senses, even as the thunderous pacing leaves you scrambling to pick up on all the clues. The action scenes will fill your nose with the acrid smell of gunpowder, and leave your tongue with the metallic taste of blood. Carrasco gives Alma all kinds of appetites—for sex, mischief, power, and more—then feeds them with one lusty chapter after another. Society may push Alma into a liminal space, but she is absolutely living it up.
Love crime fiction? Love historical fiction? Have I got a book for you ... will keep you on the edge of your seat and maybe even wondering if you’ve lost your mind. Sexy, fun, serious and unputdownable.
Katrina Carrasco’s debut thriller reminds me that crime fiction can produce flexible, dynamic characters and plotlines. In a genre that often relies on stock characters like the hard-boiled detective, the femme fatale, the tough gangster, and the angelic ingénue, a reader will feel refreshed to see that Carrasco challenges those types of characters without turning against them ... As much as Alma’s character gripped me, I wanted to understand her better. I hoped to know how she came to be, to see her reflect on her persona as Jack and what that masculine identity means to her ... While some readers may argue that Alma doesn’t fully understand herself, she doesn’t seem to care to. This character is a force to be reckoned with–not to mention, she is a blast to read.
Richly detailed ... I love books that focus on the artifice of gendered behavior, and weave the performance of identity into the larger performance of the spy, and I can’t wait to finish this wildly creative take on the genre from newcomer imprint MCD.
Carrasco succeeds in coupling a feminist historical that maintains period plausibility with an exploratory queer narrative rarely seen in the crime genre. Even readers uninterested in Alma’s identity journey will be impressed by her intelligence and social acumen, and drawn by the constantly shifting politics and well-timed reveals of the plot. Breath-catching pacing, tantalizingly rough-and-tumble characters who are somehow both distasteful and deeply relatable, palpable erotic energy, and powerful storytelling make this a standout.