Camaro Espinoza arrived on the scene in 2013 with a series of self-published novellas released over the summer of that year. She proved to be something of a sleeper hit, attracting a small, but devoted body of fans. But it wasn’t until two years later that the larger industry took notice, and Mulholland Books, an imprint of Hachette Book Group with a writer’s gallery of luminaries including Lawrence Block and David Morrell, picked up Camaro for a series.
A former combat medic, Camaro has a hazy past outside of her service in Afghanistan and Iraq. She was decorated with the Silver Star after a bloody attack in Afghanistan, during which she nearly died saving her fellow soldiers under heavy fire. But it wasn’t too much longer afterward that she left the army, a place where she seemed destined to spend the rest of her working years. The exact reason for her discharge is not yet clear. Rest assured, if the other parts of Camaro‘s life are any indicator, the motivation for mustering out is another, darker layer to a woman with many layers already.
Camaro is not a traditional heroine, and that’s the way it ought to be. The action-thriller genre has long been dominated by giant, musclebound macho men with bulletproof pecs, who wander into town, squash the bad guys and get the girl. Readers deserve something fresher, and Camaro delivers. From the very beginning, Camaro has confounded expectations attached to female thriller leads, much to the delight of her fans.
In The Night Charter, we find Camaro the skipper of her own fishing boat in Miami. She looks out for no one but herself, wanting no attention or attachments. The life she has is a quiet one, with no expectation it will ever change. But change comes calling in the form of an ex-con desperate to book a one-night charter in the deep waters off the Florida coast, a charter which leads to a far more complicated situation involving Cuban dissidents in Florida and in the communist nation itself. The situation only gets worse once an amoral crook sees an opportunity to get rich from a pile of dead bodies.
If Camaro has politics, she doesn’t share, but she doesn’t do anything strictly for the cash. The man who tries to hire her is under pressure from all sides, when all he wants to do is protect his teenaged daughter from the realities of his criminal life. When he dies in a firefight, Camaro is the only chance the girl has, but protecting her means resolving the situation at the end of a gun.
By the time Walk Away debuted, Camaro has struggled to put her peaceful existence back on course. A secret message from her sister brings her cross-country to California, where we discover Annabel Espinoza is in hiding, and the sisters have a secret they’ve been keeping from the world. An abusive boyfriend has put Annabel in danger in more than one way, and she needs Camaro to get her out of a compromising situation that only gets worse the more Camaro tries to help. The boyfriend has a brother far more violent and dangerous than he ever was and, trailing an obsessed US Marshal and vengeance-seeking hunter, this brother will settle for nothing else than Camaro’s painful death.
The third volume in the Camaro series, Make Them Sorry, brings Camaro back to Miami and another intrusion into her life. A woman wants to learn to defend herself from a stalker who grows bolder by the day. She’s convinced he’s going to attack her, and she wants the tools Camaro has in order to fight back when the time comes. As much as Camaro tries to detach from trouble, she can’t turn away from a woman in need, a decision she comes to regret.
The stalker is only the tip of this particular iceberg. Soon the ugly mess of this woman’s situation comes to light. Money laundering, theft, murder and dark acts of violence follow. Camaro has few friends to lean on, and fewer people to trust.
A fourth book, Far From Home (link), is already on the way. Camaro‘s story is far from over. Wherever she goes, whatever she does, life has a way of pushing her into the path of those who need someone like her. Call it fate or a curse, Camaro calling is now (and always has been) helping others. As a killer or a healer, she has the tools to make a difference.