cover image The Best Bad Things

The Best Bad Things

Katrina Carrasco. MCD, $27 (400p) ISBN 978-0-374-12369-7

In 1887, former Pinkerton Women’s Bureau agent Alma Rosales, the complex heroine of Carrasco’s stellar first novel, goes looking for stolen opium in Washington Territory. In order to catch the thief and recover the drugs, she disguises herself as a female ingénue and also as her cocky, pugnacious male alter ego, dockworker Jack Camp. Alma, who hopes to impress her boss and ex-lover—Delphine Beaumond, the leader of a West Coast smuggling ring—takes passionate joy in bloody confrontation and in her lustful pursuit of both women and men. 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. Agent: Stacia Decker, Dunow, Carlson & Lerner Literary. (Nov.)