This is journalism, not fiction. But it is quite a tale. Perhaps an entertaining listen for a holiday weekend. Many thanks to the folks at the Today, Explained Podcast at Vox.

I recently read I Am Not a Monster, a crime novel by Carme Chaparro. AmazonCrossing will publish it in English on November 13. I recommend it highly.

In Spain, Carme Chaparro is a star: a respected television journalist and an award-winning, best-selling author. Her debut thriller in English, I am not a Monster, will make her a star in America as well. The plot is propulsive, intricately constructed and enriched by meticulous research. Chaparro also takes the time to develop vivid characters with complex backstories. Having worked and lived in Spain, I can confirm that the portrait of Spanish law enforcement in action–from the hard-charging personalities to the dogged investigative work—rings true. The story of two high-powered women, a detective and a journalist, plunged into the hunt for missing children and a mysterious predator, is relentlessly suspenseful. The twists and turns will give you whiplash. In the end, this book succeeds as a mystery and as a story about the nobility and darkness of the human soul.

Alex Segura is the maestro of Miami noir. He explores the multilingual, multicultural turf of South Florida, the heart of the Cuban-American “exilio”, a kind of offshore capital of Latin America. It’s full of pride and tenacity, melancholy and creativity, intrigue and mystery. When I go there, I feel instantly at home: the food, the music, the effortless cultural border-crossing that people engage in on a daily basis. And the fact that the nice lady who pours café cubano at the airport speaks to me immediately in Spanish. When you read Dangerous Ends or other Alex Segura novels, you’ll see how well he knows and describes his fascinating world. And you’ll realize what the great Peruvian author Mario Vargas Llosa meant when he told me in an interview that Miami embodies the future. Alex and I had an epistolary conversation recently about the parallels and shared interests in our fiction. It’s always a pleasure to talk to him. He was gracious enough to write an introduction and put it together for CrimeReads. Read.

Here’s a useful list of books from The Dallas Morning News about a much debated, poorly understood, perennially divisive subject: the border. Triple Crossing is among them…Read.

I recently participated in a discussion at the Hudson Institute in Washington with José Grinda, a Spanish anti-corruption prosecutor who is one of Europe’s foremost experts on Russian organized crime. This hopefully offers some useful background for those trying to follow today’s loud and politicized debate about Russian-U.S. relations. Watch.

And here’s a ProPublica article about the topic last year. Read.

 

Like the previous two novels, Rip Crew has been published in France by Liana Levi, a great publishing house. Françoise Buillot did the excellent translation. The French title is Trafiquants & Associés (Traffickers & Associates), an impressive solution to the challenge of translating a border law enforcement/underworld slang term. Here are a few reviews…   Liana Levi press page. TeleramaBaz-art.

Conversation with author Ivy Pochoda, Los Angeles Review of Books.

I’M PRETTY CERTAIN that I’d be just as happy to read a novel about the actual Sebastian Rotella as I was to dive into his latest thriller featuring his fictional counterpart Valentine Pescatore. Rotella, an award-winning journalist for ProPublica whose beat includes counter-terrorism, human rights, and migration, has an awe-inspiring arsenal of knowledge and thrilling hands-on experiences to draw from for his brilliant series starring the dashing, multilingual Pescatore. But don’t expect conventional ripped-from-the-headlines fare. Rotella’s work is much more than that — Read more