Sam Hawken’s debut novel, The Dead Women of Juárez, appeared in 2011, published by Serpent’s Tail in the United Kingdom and Ireland. A story of kidnapping, murder and brutality in the Mexican border city of Ciudad Juárez, it went on to become a surprise commercial and critical hit, and was nominated by the Crime Writers’ Association for the John Creasey New Blood Dagger.
A follow-up was sure to come, and in 2012, Serpent’s Tail released Tequila Sunset, another novel set along the border between Texas and Mexico. Its ambitious narrative — combining the tales of a gang member struggling with his conscience, a Mexican federal policeman on the narco beat, and a detective in El Paso trying to balance single-motherhood of a disabled child with her job putting violent criminals behind bars — was enough to earn bestseller status, more critical acclaim, and a second Dagger nomination, this time for the CWA‘s prestigious Gold Dagger for best crime novel of the year.
In 2014, the third and final novel in what is now called The Borderland Trilogy, appeared on shelves internationally. Missing was the harrowing tale of a man searching for the daughter of his late wife. Having traveled across the border into Mexico to see a concert, the teenager vanished without a trace. With the help of an embattled policeman whose city is coming apart, this ordinary citizen dives headfirst into the chaos and violence of Mexico’s drug war, not knowing what he’ll find at the end of his journey.
Missing garnered bestseller status of its own, and earned another pair of CWA nominations, this time for the Ian Fleming Steel Dagger, as well as the Gold. An appropriate farewell to Mexico. For now.
Sam’s work turned to the thriller genre with publication of The Night Charter by Mulholland Books in 2015. This action-packed novel introduced the world to Camaro Espinoza, a hardened veteran of Afghanistan and Iraq, returned home to find a life without bloodshed, only to be drawn into a conspiracy by anticommunist activists in south Florida. A conspiracy which only becomes more fraught with danger when a violent felon decides to turn the situation to his advantage. The Night Charter garnered praise from such luminaries as David Morrell (First Blood) and Craig Johnson (creator of Longmire), and was a featured selection of the Book of the Month Club.
Walk Away in 2017 was the second Camaro thriller, where family ties force Camaro into action once again in defense of her sister. Working side-by-side with a man who lost his son to a remorseless killer, Camaro bends the law to the breaking point and beyond to bring justice where it’s most needed, all the while trying to avoid entanglement with the US Marshals Service, who want a piece of the same man. The New York Times singled out Walk Away for its despicable antagonist and cathartic action.
Between work on his own fiction, Hawken took time to collaborate with mega-bestseller, James Patterson, on the novella, The Housewife. Appearing in the collection, The Moores Are Missing, this story concerned a retired chief of detectives who finds murder can still strike very close to home. With even her husband as a suspect, she has no option but to see the mystery through to the end. The Moores Are Missing spent five weeks in the top ten of New York Times bestsellers, with The Housewife garnering praise from some of Patterson’s biggest fans.
This year, the Camaro series continues with its third volume, Make Them Sorry. A woman is stalked by a man the police won’t stop, and she needs Camaro to help her learn the skills necessary to defend herself. When the situation turns violent, Camaro discovers the real truth is far more complex than anyone suspected, and soon she is up against hired assassins, Colombian enforcers and the clock. With only a Miami detective left to trust, she’s within her rights to simply wash her hands of the whole thing, but we already know Camaro’s not the kind of woman who walks away.