“I’ve made corpses before but never loved it.”
Alma Rosales can be many things: a Pinkerton agent, a naive young Scottish girl, a gruff dock worker, a poor Southern worker woman. A shape-shifter, a chameleon, one who is willing to play any angle to get the information she needs. Now in Townsend, Washington working for Delphine Beaumond, her past lover and boss, she is tasked with finding a leak in the opium supply chain. Alma spends most of her time as dock worker and clerk Jack Camp, moving her way stealthily through the dark society of the city’s underworld.
Two things stuck out for me in this novel. As sharp as her knife and as deadly as the bullets in her gun, Rosales uses cross-dressing as a sexual weapon. Carrasco’s evocative use of the double honey pot trap was unique and done perfectly to heighten the sexual tension between the characters. Connected to that is the double, triple, and maybe quadruple plays the characters employ to outscheme their rivals, their rival’s rivals, and of course, their unsuspecting friends.
Carrasco’s writing is sharp, especially during the action scenes when she employs an almost staccato or machine gun cadence to her sentences. The descriptions have a sensory connection to the action that serves to link you directly with Alma’s bones and muscles. The atmosphere of the Northwest setting and the time period is well crafted and worthy of much praise. Shanghaiing, girls, and drugs… The author makes the commerce of the day and the power plays surrounding it vivid and tangible.
A vivd cast of characters, a strong decisive style, and a burning tension throughout make The Best Bad Things a book I can highly recommend. Alma Rosales is a smart, savvy character who will not be forgotten any time soon. A great debut novel.
5 out of 5 stars
Releases on November 6th, 2018
Thank you to NetGalley, Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, and Katrina Carrasco for the advanced copy for review.