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The Big Thrill Recommends: ROUGH TRADE by Katrina Carrasco

Recommended by Neil Nyren

Book Cover: Rough TradeIn 2018, Katrina Carrasco published an outstanding first novel called The Best Bad Things. Set in 1887 Port Townsend, Washington, it featured an ex-Pinkerton agent named Alma Rosales and a brawling dockworker named Jack Camp, both hunting for opium stolen from Alma’s employer, crime boss Delphine Beaumond. The twist? Rosales and Camp are the same person. The Best Bad Things was a cracklingly good historical crime novel, filled with action, character, and atmosphere, but also a terrific exploration of gender performance and identity. For my money, it was one of the best debuts of the year.

It’s taken a while, but the excellent news is that Alma, Jack, and Delphine are back in ROUGH TRADE, and the result is just as exciting. Their home base is now Tacoma after the cataclysmic events of the first book, but the opium trade is even more lucrative—and more dangerous.

Two dockworkers have turned up dead, supposedly from morphine overdoses, but troubling signs point to much worse. Inspectors are sniffing around the docks, disrupting shipments. The Families that Delphine reports to are not pleased and exerting heavy pressure on them to keep the traffic flowing. A Wells Fargo detective is in town, putting everyone on edge. Alma’s former Pinkerton colleague—and first love—Bess Spencer has suddenly turned up after years of silence. And who is that handsome young stranger who’s just joined Jack’s crew and who is now not only sleeping with one of Jack’s best men but asking uncomfortable questions?

“Life’s punches come hard and quick and rarely where expected,” Jack comments, and they will soon find just how true that is. Everyone has their own agenda. No one is quite what he or she seems. Murder, blackmail, embezzlement, armed robbery—the crimes pile up. Alarmingly, so do the bodies. If Jack/Alma can’t figure out what’s going on…they may be next.

A grand swashbuckling adventure with plenty to say.

Neil Nyren


Neil Nyren is the former EVP, associate publisher, and editor in chief of G.P. Putnam’s Sons and the winner of the 2017 Ellery Queen Award from the Mystery Writers of America. Among the writers of crime and suspense he has edited are Tom Clancy, Clive Cussler, John Sandford, C. J. Box, Robert Crais, Carl Hiaasen, Daniel Silva, Jack Higgins, Frederick Forsyth, Ken Follett, Jonathan Kellerman, Ed McBain, and Ace Atkins. He now writes about crime fiction and publishing for CrimeReads, BookTrib, The Big Thrill, and The Third Degree, among others, and is a contributing writer to the Anthony/Agatha/Macavity-winning How to Write a Mystery.

He is currently writing a monthly publishing column for the MWA newsletter The Third Degree, as well as a regular ITW-sponsored series on debut thriller authors for and is an editor at large for CrimeReads.


The Big Thrill Recommends: ROUGH TRADE by Katrina Carrasco