The Best Bad Things
Alma Rosales is on the hunt for stolen opium. Trained in espionage by the Pinkerton’s Detective Agency—but dismissed for bad behavior and a penchant for going undercover as a man—Alma now works for Delphine Beaumond, her former lover and the seductive mastermind of a West Coast smuggling ring.When product goes missing at their Washington Territory outpost, Alma is offered a promotion if she can track the thief and recover the drugs. In disguise as the scrappy dockworker Jack Camp, this should be easy—once she muscles her way into the organization and wins the trust of the local boss and his boys, all while keeping them from uncovering her secrets. Her identity is not all she’s hiding: At the same time she’s searching for the missing opium, Alma is sending coded dispatches to the Pinkerton’s agents detailing the smuggling ring’s operations.As the sailors tell it, Port Townsend is just five miles from hell. Which suits Alma fine. It’s the perfect setting for her game of aliases and double-crosses. But it’s getting harder and harder to keep her cover stories straight. And to know who to trust. One wrong move and she could be unmasked: as a woman, as a traitor, or as a spy.A twisting and propulsive historical crime story, ​​THE BEST BAD THINGS introduces Katrina Carrasco as a major new voice in fiction.

The Best Bad Things Details

TitleThe Best Bad Things
Author
ReleaseNov 6th, 2018
PublisherFarrar Straus and Giroux
ISBN-139780374123697
Rating
GenreHistorical, Historical Fiction, Fiction, Mystery, Thriller, Mystery Thriller

The Best Bad Things Review

  • Scarlett Readz and Runz....Through Novel Time & Distance
    January 1, 1970
    *Trigger Warning, book contains very explicit content and violence.*Inspired by one of the busiest seaports on the West Coast in the US, Townsend was a well-documented hot spot for smuggling in the late 1880’s. This makes it a perfect setting for a historical fiction novel with such a daring plot. Amidst the dirt of the trade, the characters are edgy, the scenes are explicit and the atmosphere reeks of dark, pungent alleys, infused with betrayal, espionage and murder. From the Author’s Note:San *Trigger Warning, book contains very explicit content and violence.*Inspired by one of the busiest seaports on the West Coast in the US, Townsend was a well-documented hot spot for smuggling in the late 1880’s. This makes it a perfect setting for a historical fiction novel with such a daring plot. Amidst the dirt of the trade, the characters are edgy, the scenes are explicit and the atmosphere reeks of dark, pungent alleys, infused with betrayal, espionage and murder. From the Author’s Note:San Francisco Chronicle, 1893: “The opium ring of the Northwest is a fearful, shadowy, impalpable something; shadowy in form, but most substantial in fact. It makes its presence known, yet it’s itself unknown. The subordinate members obey a system… [Directed by] some prominent citizen whose reputation in the commercial and social world is untainted….[U.S. government agents] are baffled and, watch as they will, they cannot find evidence enough to bring this man to justice.“The first thing that stood out to me was the writing in this novel. It is razor sharp, undoubtedly descriptive to please the senses, and witty. “Outside, everything feels tight and shiny, crowded with energy. Frost gilds the thrumming boardwalk. Candy-colored lanterns light the crowded mouths of pleasure houses. A saloon rattles with shouts and melodeon’s groaning.” – Katrina Carrasco“Green reek of kelp. Ship rigging rattles fifty feet out in the bay. She weaves through Lower Town, its shingles and piers coating the peninsula’s shore like a barnacle cluster. The road is humped with piled wooden crates and construction gear. The foundry’s furnaces suffuse the air with char.” - Katrina CarrascoAlma Rosales, the main character in this novel, goes undercover as Jack Camp, a dockworker. And she likes it too. Working for Delphine Beaumond, her former lover, she digs deep into the dark on goings in Port Townsend leaving no alley upturned in her craft. This role fits her well as she is trained in knifing, backstabbing plotting and…killing. Her role as Jack Camp, becomes her second skin. A role that also infuses her with desires and appetite. “To lacquer on manhood, Alma starts with the hands. Gentlemen wear rings. A working man wears calluses. He leaves dirty fingerprints on newspapers, drops peanut shells in his path. His nails may or may not be bitten. In winter his knuckles crack with cold.”- Katrina Carrasco“Alma rakes her teeth over her lower lip. She is itching to see Nell, her body primed by the brawl. It’s a long-ingrained habit: fighting, then f…ing.”- Katrina CarrascoIt does not take her long to figure out who is moving product and making the big bucks. The questions is, how? When some of the key players fall out of the game, it requires her to change tactic and establish alibies. As Jack Camp gets into brawls with henchmen and other interest groups, he almost bites the dust. Fueled with anger, can he frame the right person for the gain of his employer? Will Alma’s liking for certain characters jeopardize her decisions? Or is Jack Camp ultimately the pawn that’s at stake in this race to sell more opiates?***Alma’s bisexual character hovers between two identities, a first for me in a historical fiction novel. “She is being two things at once. Grinning hard like Camp, chin up like Camp. She is in the gray space between identities and he sees her and she is lit up, spark filled, starving.”- Katrina CarrascoThe title The Best Bad Things may elude to the power or the struggle of the character’s identity or what may be perceived as flaws during the 1880’s, but I cannot say for sure. It seems to me that Alma is more comfortable with herself then it is deemed proper in society at the time. She is actually rather full of vigor and zest spurred by her youth and desires for men and woman. She is confident in the moment when these strike. What I cannot emulate is that the explicit scenes are often a reaction to violent acts.What I foremost enjoyed in this book is the striking, vivid writing. Although not consistently strong at all times, it is a whirlwind of a read. One is thrown right into the action and it almost never stops. This perhaps came at the expense of the character development as I would have liked to connect more with the main characters, but not much of tangible background was revealed; leaving all the big players somewhat two dimensional for my taste. The scheme of the plot was brilliant and ever changing. As a reader it requires full attention to keep up with the cast and subplots. I may have missed a few things here and there, as it seems that at every page turn a different back-stab was lurking. Rereading some parts I highlighted with notes for this review made me dive right back and gain appreciation for different scenes of the action as it all came together at the end. Reading the epilogue again after the book, makes all sense now and is superbly befitting. This book is definitely for the mature audience and those attracted to historical settings. The heroine was strong, clever and refreshing. Her indomitable spirit was unstoppable. I received an electronic copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange of an honest review. All opinions are my own. Thank you!More of my reviews can be found here: https://scarlettreadzandrunz.com/
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  • Liz
    January 1, 1970
    So, I’m a fan of mysteries and historical fiction. The idea of a mystery taking place in the 1880s sounded right up my alley. Add in a female protagonist and I was all set to like it. Unfortunately, it didn’t engage me the way I hoped. The writing was as dense as pea soup. Alma Rosales goes undercover as a man to find who is stealing opium from her boss, Delphine, who is also her former lover. But I really didn’t take an interest in Alma. I had trouble buying into her ability to pose as a man. S So, I’m a fan of mysteries and historical fiction. The idea of a mystery taking place in the 1880s sounded right up my alley. Add in a female protagonist and I was all set to like it. Unfortunately, it didn’t engage me the way I hoped. The writing was as dense as pea soup. Alma Rosales goes undercover as a man to find who is stealing opium from her boss, Delphine, who is also her former lover. But I really didn’t take an interest in Alma. I had trouble buying into her ability to pose as a man. She came across as two dimensional. In fact, all of the characters came across that way. There’s lots of two timing here, everyone trying to get a leg up on everyone else. There’s not a good soul in the book, everyone can be bought or turned. Character development has been sacrificed for a racing plot, with action on every page.Carrasco does a good job in giving you a sense of the time and place. I did appreciate that the book is based on Port Townsend’s real problem as a smuggling hot spot. It was a violent time and place and Carrasco captures that violence in all its goriness. This is not a book for the faint of heart. My thanks to netgalley and Farrah, Strout and Giroux for an advance copy of this book.
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  • Kyra Leseberg (Roots & Reads)
    January 1, 1970
    Washington Territory, 1887: Alma Rosales has been dismissed from the Pinkerton's Detective Agency for her questionable behavior and after a brief stint in California as a P.I., she's working for her former lover Delphine, the head of an opium smuggling ring.Disguised as a man named Jack Camp, Rosales infiltrates the local organization on the docks of Port Townsend to discover who has been stealing product from Delphine.  She manages to earn the trust of the crew and their boss, Nathaniel Wheeler Washington Territory, 1887: Alma Rosales has been dismissed from the Pinkerton's Detective Agency for her questionable behavior and after a brief stint in California as a P.I., she's working for her former lover Delphine, the head of an opium smuggling ring.Disguised as a man named Jack Camp, Rosales infiltrates the local organization on the docks of Port Townsend to discover who has been stealing product from Delphine.  She manages to earn the trust of the crew and their boss, Nathaniel Wheeler, who is discreetly moving Delphine's product along the West coast.Rosales has a bad habit of putting herself into dangerous situations:  dressing as a man and chasing after women are only two of the habits that could get her killed.  She's also sending coded messages to Pinkerton's agents with details on the smuggling operations.One wrong move and the many identities she has carefully created to suit her motives could topple the flimsy house of cards built on deception.The Best Bad Things seriously kept me on my toes!  It can get confusing as it jumps back and forth over a short period of time, only revealing particular details to the plot when the author is ready to show her hand.  There are also several subplots that run the course of the novel, only making sense toward the end.Overall, the plot was brilliantly constructed with several twists and motives that remain unclear for a while, causing you to wonder where exactly our main character's loyalty truly lies.  The many deceptions Rosales juggles makes for intense action and drama.Alma Rosales is a refreshing female protagonist in a genre traditionally centered entirely around male characters.  She's clever, confident, strong, and sexually charged in a time period when all of these traits were shocking and inappropriate for women.While the primary plot and its subplots eventually come together in a clever execution, the order in which its told can be confusing or frustrating at times.  There were several inessential scenes and descriptions that didn't really add to the development of the characters or their story.  I'll warn readers there are gratuitous sex scenes and some contain or are spurred by violence*, though I found them to be well written and actually adding insight into Rosales's behavior and gender fluidity.A Western-ish/noir-ish/historical fiction crime drama featuring a complex female protagonist who leaves us guessing at every turn, The Best Bad Things is an impressive debut with an original spin on a genre mash up.Thanks to Farrar, Straus and Giroux and NetGalley for providing me with a digital ARC in exchange for my honest review.  The Best Bad Things is scheduled for release on November 6, 2018. *Trigger warnings for explicit/violent content. For more full reviews, visit www.rootsandreads.wordpress.com
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  • Paul
    January 1, 1970
    A vivd cast of characters, a strong decisive style, and a burning tension throughout make The Best Bad Things a book I can highly recommend. Alma Rosales is a smart, savvy character who will not be forgotten any time soon. A great debut novel.Thank you to NetGalley, Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, and Katrina Carrasco for the advanced copy for review.Full review can be found here: https://paulspicks.blog/2018/05/09/th...Please check out all my reviews: https://paulspicks.blog
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  • - ̗̀ DANY ̖́- (danyreads)
    January 1, 1970
    . : ☾⋆ — 3 ★ READ THIS REVIEW ON MY BLOG!!!https://bit.ly/2C22f0rARC provided from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review (thank you Farrar, Straus and Giroux!!)The Best Bad Things follows Alma Rosales, a gender-fluid, half Mexican, bisexual Pinkerton agent in the late 1880s in Port Townsend, Washington. Alma, working undercover for her former-lover-turned-boss, infiltrates the local drug outpost disguised as a male dockworker in the hunt for stolen opium from a West Coast . : ☾⋆ — 3 ★ READ THIS REVIEW ON MY BLOG!!!https://bit.ly/2C22f0rARC provided from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review (thank you Farrar, Straus and Giroux!!)The Best Bad Things follows Alma Rosales, a gender-fluid, half Mexican, bisexual Pinkerton agent in the late 1880s in Port Townsend, Washington. Alma, working undercover for her former-lover-turned-boss, infiltrates the local drug outpost disguised as a male dockworker in the hunt for stolen opium from a West Coast smuggling ring. this book is not for everyone. i’m not even sure it was for me but i really can’t think of another word that fully encapsulates my feelings for this book other than BOLD. The Best Bad Things is an absolute masterpiece in terms of atmosphere and ambience. Katrina Carrasco’s sharp, beautifully detailed writing style pulls you into this setting that feels incredibly vivid, almost tangible. it evokes this extremely particular feeling, and does so perfectly. i’ll admit this book even made me open up a new playlist so i could put together some songs that would match the precise ambience this book conjures, it’s such an exclusive and rare thing nowadays to find writing that absolutely transcends and leaps off the pages like this one does. i don’t even know how to explain just exactly how amazing Katrina Carrasco’s writing is. Alma herself is one of the most refreshing main characters i’ve had the pleasure to read in a very long time. she’s tough and she’s bisexual and she’s latina and she’s just brilliant. Katrina Carrasco is BRILLIANT. my one and only issue with The Best Bad Things is that, unfortunately, i don’t think the plot itself was necessarily the most compelling thing about the book. i wasn’t particularly interested in it. this sucks, obviously, and i do love historical fiction so i really don’t know what went wrong here. the plot, in my opinion, was dense at best. hard to keep up with. dragged a little. this probably has to do more with me as a reader than with the book or the author, but this book is definitely not an easy ride. it dragged the book down for me but i think it’s absolutely a worthy read for the writing alone. it really is tough to find a book that completely envelops you to the very core in its essence and atmosphere. Katrina Carrasco really is dauntingly terrific. thanks again to NetGalley and Farrar, Straus and Giroux!!
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  • Kasa Cotugno
    January 1, 1970
    A shape shifting Pinkerton operator in Port Townsend, before Washington became a state. Well written with much mystery and enough intrigue. Hopefully there will be more from this author in a series that promises originality and style.
  • Geonn Cannon
    January 1, 1970
    This book sounded like it was tailor-made for me. Female Pinkerton agent in pre-statehood Washington (Port Townsend, to be exact), AND she likes the ladies? I've never wanted Netgalley to approve me for a book than this one. It did not disappoint!While it has a strong mystery plot as the backbone, the real draw of this book is the main character (who is bisexual, as it turns out). Alma is one of the toughest protagonists I've read in a long time. Is Alma good or bad? Is she the law or a criminal This book sounded like it was tailor-made for me. Female Pinkerton agent in pre-statehood Washington (Port Townsend, to be exact), AND she likes the ladies? I've never wanted Netgalley to approve me for a book than this one. It did not disappoint!While it has a strong mystery plot as the backbone, the real draw of this book is the main character (who is bisexual, as it turns out). Alma is one of the toughest protagonists I've read in a long time. Is Alma good or bad? Is she the law or a criminal? The answer is yes. Alma's loyalty is to herself and whatever can best serve her in the moment. Carrasco takes the time to really get into her head and show us the world from her perspective. She's always working the angles, never panicking or letting herself get found wrongfooted. I really appreciated the care which was given to Alma's transformation into Jack. It wasn't a simple matter of putting on new clothes and changing her voice, there was a true process that the author did a great job portraying. This is a book where the story is a backdrop for us to meet a truly original, fascinating character. That said, the writing is fantastic and instantly evocative of the time period. The world opens up almost immediately in all its ugliness and beauty and violence. The characters are well-drawn (if there was ever a spinoff or a prequel or anything with Delphine, sign me up). I look forward to recommending this - and really anything else Katrina Carrasco writes in the future - to everyone I know.
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  • Authentikate
    January 1, 1970
    3.5 Stars Alma Rosales is a new sort of heroine. She’s smart. She’s brash. She’s a snoop and a spy. She’s daring, sharp-tongued and maybe a little too full of herself. Her self-confidence is both a blessing and a curse as she sets off on high-adrenaline historical fiction suspenseful thrill ride. A former detective for the notorious Pinkerton agency, Alma, fired but unwilling to give up the hunt, begins her work for a jasmine-dripped woman named Delphine. Alma goes undercover as a man named Jack 3.5 Stars Alma Rosales is a new sort of heroine. She’s smart. She’s brash. She’s a snoop and a spy. She’s daring, sharp-tongued and maybe a little too full of herself. Her self-confidence is both a blessing and a curse as she sets off on high-adrenaline historical fiction suspenseful thrill ride. A former detective for the notorious Pinkerton agency, Alma, fired but unwilling to give up the hunt, begins her work for a jasmine-dripped woman named Delphine. Alma goes undercover as a man named Jack Camp to infiltrate a local man’s business. There’s opium. There’s murder. And there’s plenty of sexual tension as Alma/Jack employs scheme after scheme to aid Delphine and keep the Pinkertons at bay. What sets this novel apart is clear: the heroine. She’s Latina. She’s a woman. She’s overtly sexual on all sides. She’s tough. It’s refreshing to have a female character who smashes stereotypes and gets the job done in the process. My only snag was I felt the story didn’t build so much as leap, if that makes sense.
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  • Kaijsa
    January 1, 1970
    This was not for me. Alma Rosales was a completely unbelievable character, and I couldn't suspend my disbelief. I wanted to love this book and the description attracted me mostly because of Alma. She isn't like anybody I've read about before and that appealed to me--I'd love to read more with gender fluid characters of color in a different book. But beyond the almost superhuman protagonist (she can fight anybody and miraculously heal!), I wasn't into the writing style or the violence, especially This was not for me. Alma Rosales was a completely unbelievable character, and I couldn't suspend my disbelief. I wanted to love this book and the description attracted me mostly because of Alma. She isn't like anybody I've read about before and that appealed to me--I'd love to read more with gender fluid characters of color in a different book. But beyond the almost superhuman protagonist (she can fight anybody and miraculously heal!), I wasn't into the writing style or the violence, especially sexual violence. Like I said, this just isn't for me.I received a free ebook ARC from Farrar, Straus & Giroux via NetGalley. This is my honest review.
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  • Karen Kay
    January 1, 1970
    I received this from netgalley.com in exchange for a review. Alma Rosales is searching for stolen opium. Shifting between a lady and her male persona Jack Camp, she lies, cheats and kills to find what she is looking for.It was an effort to get through this, having to read over the previous pages to keep track of the story. The writing was okay, but the story and its characters were a struggle to follow. 2☆
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  • Davada
    January 1, 1970
    Rating: 4.5 starsThis book is bursting with personality. You know when an author merely tells a story with their writing? In The Best Bad Things, Carrasco's writing is the story. This book is fierce, loud, and unforgettable. The characters are not cardboard cutouts. Our main character (Alma) is a sexually driven, bisexual, hispanic, kick ass, heroine that defies ALL molds set for women in historical fictions. We have Delphine, a beautifully mysterious Head of All Operations, all around boss with Rating: 4.5 starsThis book is bursting with personality. You know when an author merely tells a story with their writing? In The Best Bad Things, Carrasco's writing is the story. This book is fierce, loud, and unforgettable. The characters are not cardboard cutouts. Our main character (Alma) is a sexually driven, bisexual, hispanic, kick ass, heroine that defies ALL molds set for women in historical fictions. We have Delphine, a beautifully mysterious Head of All Operations, all around boss without losing any of the femininity. She's a very good balance beam for Alma, because I love authors who incorporate that you don't have to lose your femininity to be badass. We have Wheeler, a strong, stubborn, and quite frankly unpredictable man that always leaves you on your toes. The writing, as I've established, is stunning. It will literally time travel you to this new, dangerous, underground world engaging all five senses at all times. Why didn't I give this book a whole whooping 5 out of 5? Because the plot was a spider web; there were a lot of moments where I became lost. The author introduces a lot of names, and a lot of strings are getting pulled, and the McManuses and Clays and Kopps and all of them all started to get jumbled up in my head. I think by the 80% mark I was just reading it for the characters because I had no idea what the heck was going on. There are a lot of loosely based sub plots going on, and then one main plot, and every plot conspires of different people . It becomes kind of just a hot mess. The story line really isn't a walk in the park to follow, and I think to fully understand what was going on I would need to read it a second time. There are so many details in this story that it's so hard to keep track of all of them. I think I might go back and read it a second time and update this review for my second run through. Despite this, I would highly recommend this story. It really is quite different from anything I've ever read before. And if you're into spider web plots, you'll love it even more than I did.
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  • Jennifer
    January 1, 1970
    This book started off with a bang and I remember thinking, "Oh man...this is going to be an awesome book." Sadly though, for me personally, things started to go downhill shortly thereafter and I could barely sustain enough interest to finish it. To be clear, I don't think this is necessarily a BAD book. There is some very solid writing in here. I think it just wasn't a match for me.The book does have a damn fine opening though. Lots of action and Alma/Jack is an intriguing lead character. I love This book started off with a bang and I remember thinking, "Oh man...this is going to be an awesome book." Sadly though, for me personally, things started to go downhill shortly thereafter and I could barely sustain enough interest to finish it. To be clear, I don't think this is necessarily a BAD book. There is some very solid writing in here. I think it just wasn't a match for me.The book does have a damn fine opening though. Lots of action and Alma/Jack is an intriguing lead character. I loved reading about her approach to gender roles and I thought there was great, complex sexual tension between her and other characters because of it. The thing that was problematic for me personally was the plot was dense with characters and their various plans, backstabbing, and double crossing. At times it felt like a lot to wade though. I also felt like as a result, interpersonal relationships (and at times even compelling action scenes) got the short shift in favor of more exposition and plot maneuvers. Ultimately it dragged the book down for me.Thanks to the author and NetGalley for granting me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Lou Jacobs
    January 1, 1970
    "The Chameleon" … Karen Carrasco's debut novel is a beute … featuring the unlikely heroine, Alma Rosales. Half Scot and half Mexican, Alma has the unique talent of a chameleon … easily flitting between female and male persona. She is a master of costume, speech and dialect. Shifting easily between such characters as: Alma Macrae, Jack Camp and asorted others to accomplish the task at hand. Alma appears to be working for two employers with opposing interests. The intrigue unfolds in 1887, primar "The Chameleon" … Karen Carrasco's debut novel is a beute … featuring the unlikely heroine, Alma Rosales. Half Scot and half Mexican, Alma has the unique talent of a chameleon … easily flitting between female and male persona. She is a master of costume, speech and dialect. Shifting easily between such characters as: Alma Macrae, Jack Camp and asorted others to accomplish the task at hand. Alma appears to be working for two employers with opposing interests. The intrigue unfolds in 1887, primarily in Port Townsend, Washington … a major seaport rivaling the importance of that of San Francisco. There are ongoing campaigns to eradicate the widespread usage of opium … this has resulted in "tar" smoking going underground and fostering the necessity of smuggling opium into the US … mostly from China via Canada. Port Townsend sitting in the Puget Sound provides easy access for smuggling from Victoria, Vancouver … and then downward toward Seattle and Tacoma. Alma is working for both sides …. meeting up and partnering with Delphine (aka "Sarah Powell") a beautiful and mysterious femme fatale who just happens to be the brains behind the smuggling operation … their salacious union is a another story. Alma recently was plying her talents as a private eye …. previously a disgraced female sleuth of the famous Pinkerton Agency. … part of the legendary Women's Bureau (initiated by the hiring of the first female detective in 1856). Delphine convinces her of the necessity of insinuating herself back into the Pinkerton Agency in order to counter their investigative endeavor into smuggling. Carrasco expertly weaves a tortuous and twisted narrative with a cast of colorful fleshed out characters … that keeps the action and tension propelling forward with unexpected consequences. What results is a thoroughly satisfying and unique yarn, accented by her unique prose and settings. Thanks to Netgalley and Macmillan Books for providing me with an Uncorrected Proof of this historical fiction gem in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Anne
    January 1, 1970
    The Best Bad Things by Katrina Carrasco is an historical crime novel taking place in the late 1880's in Port Townsend, Washington, at the time vying with San Francisco as the busiest port in the Northwest. It tells the story of Alma Rosales, an opium smuggler, who works for Delphine, the "boss" in the Northwest opium trade. Alma is working "undercover" to prove herself to her boss. The fact that puts an interesting spin on the whole thing is that she works undercover as a man, mostly, ...and doe The Best Bad Things by Katrina Carrasco is an historical crime novel taking place in the late 1880's in Port Townsend, Washington, at the time vying with San Francisco as the busiest port in the Northwest. It tells the story of Alma Rosales, an opium smuggler, who works for Delphine, the "boss" in the Northwest opium trade. Alma is working "undercover" to prove herself to her boss. The fact that puts an interesting spin on the whole thing is that she works undercover as a man, mostly, ...and does it well. No one can be trusted. Carrasco makes the reader absorb the truth of this reality. People die. Lots of them. Some deserving, some not. She does a fabulous job of keeping the read guessing. It's hard to know who's who and who is the bad guy. This is fiction but based in reality. The opium trade was huge in this area at the time and the traders spun off into sidelines of smuggling people into the country and such. Carrasco refers to this without making a big deal of it. This book is a little out of the wheelhouse for me. I enjoyed it. I never knew hat was coming next and I didn't see the finale until I was there. That is always a good thing. I recommend you give it a try. I received a free ARC of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. #netgalley
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  • Anneke
    January 1, 1970
    Book Review: The Best Bad ThingsAuthor: Katrina CarrascoPublisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux/MCDPublication Date: November 6, 2018Review Date: September 10, 2018I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. “A vibrant and compulsive read; in Alma Rosales, Katrina Carrasco has created a gender-bending heroine who is impossible to forget. The Best Bad Things packs a massive punch and succeeds in queering the crime genre.” ―Saleem Haddad, author of GuapaFirst Book Review: The Best Bad ThingsAuthor: Katrina CarrascoPublisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux/MCDPublication Date: November 6, 2018Review Date: September 10, 2018I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. “A vibrant and compulsive read; in Alma Rosales, Katrina Carrasco has created a gender-bending heroine who is impossible to forget. The Best Bad Things packs a massive punch and succeeds in queering the crime genre.” ―Saleem Haddad, author of GuapaFirst of all, this is a long book, filled with a great deal of minutiae in description, narrative and plot. It’s a debut novel and quite extraordinary. I imagine it will rocket to the top of the best seller lists. This is an 1880 Western crime thriller. Alma Rosales, the protagonist, is a complex character. She presents as Jack Camp, a rough, tough man involved in the tar trade in the 1880’s in Port Townsend, Washington. However, I don’t believe it’s as simple as her being transgender. It’s more that she’s a chameleon. At will she changes her body presentation and accent.I give it 5 Stars as it’s extremely well-written. Character, language, plot. However, I abandoned the book half the way through when I realized that I was bored with the book and was slogging through because I thought I had to. It’s not the book, it’s me. I’m not interested in Westerns or crime thrillers. I was fascinated with Alma/Jack’s character, but the story moved too slowly for me. I couldn’t tell where it was going, so I let it go. Please understand, this is first class writing. My negatives are purely due to my personal preferences. For those readers interested in the West Coast 1880’s, crime stories, a look at the tar (opium) trade from China, you will find this a delightful read. I will post this review on NetGalley, Goodreads, Facebook, Instagram and then on Amazon and Barnes and Noble after publication.
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  • Jen
    January 1, 1970
    A woman disguised as a man investigating a drug ring with mysteriously disappearing opium disguised takes dedication and a keen intellect in Katrina Carrasco's The Best Bad Things.To read this, and other book reviews, visit my website: http://makinggoodstories.wordpress.com/.Alma Rosales, a former Pinkerton detective, is a good investigator who observes minute details and asks probing questions while infiltrating situations as need demands as either a female or, as she often prefers, a male. Emb A woman disguised as a man investigating a drug ring with mysteriously disappearing opium disguised takes dedication and a keen intellect in Katrina Carrasco's The Best Bad Things.To read this, and other book reviews, visit my website: http://makinggoodstories.wordpress.com/.Alma Rosales, a former Pinkerton detective, is a good investigator who observes minute details and asks probing questions while infiltrating situations as need demands as either a female or, as she often prefers, a male. Embedding herself into the West Coast drug scene as Jack Camp, Alma aims to uncover who within the operation is stealing opium from her employer and former lover Delphine. Gaining the trust of one of the local bosses proves to be more of a challenge, when her identity as Camp might become compromised, but her quick wit and thirst for violence prove to be an asset. As the search for the culprit closes in, Alma not only has to navigate the corruption of Port Townsend and keep her identity hidden, but she also has to work to keep the incoming Pinkerton agents at bay to prevent a wrench in her well-laid plans.A tale of vice, excess, and corruption that is presented through jumps in Alma's recollection of her assorted reconnaissance work, current and developing action, and the interrogation of a man in police custody, which paints a more cohesive narrative, though its development doesn't build naturally and rather offers small bits for the reader to cobble together. Alma is an incredibly self-confident (perhaps too much so) and sharp-tongued lead; her ability to handle herself physically against opponents is impressive, and skills in camouflaging herself for the situation prove vital for success. Though the text was a bit heavy-handed and overly detailed on brutality and sexual aggressiveness, it was interesting to see a woman taking liberties with her sexuality and dressing as she wants despite the cultural expectations and customs of the era.Overall, I'd give it a 3.5 out of 5 stars.
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  • Sam
    January 1, 1970
    The Best Bad Things is an outstanding literary entertainment. It is a sweaty, sensual, physical sensory overload. In terms of historical novels, it is on a par with Francis Spufford's Golden Hill for its' ambition, cheek and evocation of place.Alma Morales/Jack Camp is the gender-fluid, all action anti-hero we need. In your imagination this book is a ten part, widescreen HBO epic. You can see her bruised knuckles, dirty fingernails and blood-stained clothes as she cuts a swathe through Port Town The Best Bad Things is an outstanding literary entertainment. It is a sweaty, sensual, physical sensory overload. In terms of historical novels, it is on a par with Francis Spufford's Golden Hill for its' ambition, cheek and evocation of place.Alma Morales/Jack Camp is the gender-fluid, all action anti-hero we need. In your imagination this book is a ten part, widescreen HBO epic. You can see her bruised knuckles, dirty fingernails and blood-stained clothes as she cuts a swathe through Port Townsend, leaving a trail of bodies in her wake. Like any anti-hero she makes mistakes, gets into fights and very bad spots, enjoying every minute of it.Alma is trained as a detective and a spy. She is looking for a patsy to take the fall for the smuggling operation run by her boss, and erstwhile lover, Delphine. The more you pay attention in this book, the better the reward. Just as Alma spends half the book as Jack, there is a deal of misdirection in the plot, which is cleverly resolved. All of the characters are vividly imagined. Wheeler, the boss, is a complex and violent man. Nell, the forger doesn't suffer fools, and Delphine turns on a sixpence, depending on whose company she keeps. So much of the dialogue is like sparring, a fascinating power struggle between people desperate to make it in a dangerous town. The Best Bad Things is a phenomenal debut novel from Katrina Carrasco.
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  • Tiffany S
    January 1, 1970
    To start my review I must say-I hope Katrina Carrasco makes Alma Rosales the protagonist in at least 5 more books. “The Best Bad Things” was one of those historical fiction books that shows you the underbelly of the world and makes you cringe when you think how far women have come (and how far we have to go). Alma ROCKS to put it lightly. She worked for the Pinkerton Detective Agency but may have been dismissed for some less than stellar things. She finds new work and spends the time straddling To start my review I must say-I hope Katrina Carrasco makes Alma Rosales the protagonist in at least 5 more books. “The Best Bad Things” was one of those historical fiction books that shows you the underbelly of the world and makes you cringe when you think how far women have come (and how far we have to go). Alma ROCKS to put it lightly. She worked for the Pinkerton Detective Agency but may have been dismissed for some less than stellar things. She finds new work and spends the time straddling multiple worlds as a gender fluid person who knows they are in a time where being discovered could mean death. The setting is Washington in 1887 and opium is legal...but still smuggled and sold illegally because the good stuff is never legal…Her new work finds her working to trace lost shipments, shady men, lust, and love…Please let there be more Alma books. It was SOOO amazing to have a book talk about a time where discovery was so dangerous and yet people still lived and loved and fought to be true to themselves. Thank you Netgalley for the ARC. People PRE-ORDER THIS BOOK!!!! #TheBestBadThings #NetGalley
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  • Sherry Chiger
    January 1, 1970
    This is a book I admired more than loved. A gender-fluid, part-Latinx protagonist on the rough-and-tumble Washington coast during the time of opium smuggling, Pinkerton agents, and the rise of the railroads? Wow. The plot was suitably complex, with lots of ball juggling, and the prose was so vivid. But the overuse, IMO, of sentence fragments wore on me, to the point that I almost gave up reading before the halfway mark, and I felt some of the descriptions could have been pruned to quicken the pa This is a book I admired more than loved. A gender-fluid, part-Latinx protagonist on the rough-and-tumble Washington coast during the time of opium smuggling, Pinkerton agents, and the rise of the railroads? Wow. The plot was suitably complex, with lots of ball juggling, and the prose was so vivid. But the overuse, IMO, of sentence fragments wore on me, to the point that I almost gave up reading before the halfway mark, and I felt some of the descriptions could have been pruned to quicken the pace . We get it: Alma, the protagonist, is highly physical, likes to fight as much as have sex with both men and women, and has seemingly miraculous healing powers. No need to keep showing me that. More important, it wasn't until the final fifth of the book that I felt any empathy with Alma. I don't need to like a character to want to spend time with him or her, but I do need to feel some sort of connection, and I didn't until the final act.(I received a free ARC in exchange for an honest review. Thank you, NetGalley and Farrar, Straus and Giroux.)
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  • Katherine
    January 1, 1970
    This book initially looked like something I would enjoy. However as I started reading it I was confused and thought the date transitions were not helpful. It was not until at least 3/4 or more along that the disparate parts started to come together for me. The characters were fully developed although the main character is confusing and switches genders throughout the book. This story is full of sexual innuendo and brutal sex scenes, both implied and detailed. I finished this book and at the end This book initially looked like something I would enjoy. However as I started reading it I was confused and thought the date transitions were not helpful. It was not until at least 3/4 or more along that the disparate parts started to come together for me. The characters were fully developed although the main character is confusing and switches genders throughout the book. This story is full of sexual innuendo and brutal sex scenes, both implied and detailed. I finished this book and at the end decided it wasn’t really for me after all-the entire thing is just slightly unsettling for some reason on many levels. Thank you to #nettalley for the chance to read #thebestbadthings
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  • Megan
    January 1, 1970
    Super confused by the high reviews on this book. I love to read and rarely find books I don’t at least kind of like. This is one of the books I really don’t like. Overall the story could have been great when you look at the bones of it, hence my two star rating. But ultimately this particular telling was a bomb for me. And what is it with the sexual violence? I don’t feel it added to the story at all. Don’t waste your time on this one.
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  • Joe Jones
    January 1, 1970
    Alma is a cross dressing, bisexual, half-Mexican, badass woman who goes undercover in this historical fiction story set in 1887 Washington state. She lives life on the edge and with gusto and nerve in everything she does. It does contain graphic content if that is an issue for people. Otherwise just enjoy the ride!
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  • nikkia neil
    January 1, 1970
    Thanks Farrar, Straus and Giroux and netgalley for this ARC. All opinions are my own. This is by far one of the grittiest, most profound, awesome, and action filled novel of the year. You won't be able to put this one down.
  • AnnMarie
    January 1, 1970
    There is not an adjective that Carrasco does not like. The over descriptions of every person, place and thing made this book drag on. A fight scene that could have been written in 3 pages went on for 8 pages. It turned a promising story into a wordy mess.
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  • D.B. Moone
    January 1, 1970
    The Best Bad Things: A Novelby Katrina CarrascoFarrar, Straus, and GirouxMCDHistorical FictionPub Date 06 Nov 2018As a #NetGalley reader and reviewer, I read the description of The Best Bad Things on #NetGalley, which was the same description on Macmillan Publisher‘s page for The Best Bad Things.“A brazen, brawny, sexy standout of a historical thrill ride, The Best Bad Things is full of unforgettable characters and insatiable appetites. I was riveted. Painstakingly researched and pulsing with ad The Best Bad Things: A Novelby Katrina CarrascoFarrar, Straus, and GirouxMCDHistorical FictionPub Date 06 Nov 2018As a #NetGalley reader and reviewer, I read the description of The Best Bad Things on #NetGalley, which was the same description on Macmillan Publisher‘s page for The Best Bad Things.“A brazen, brawny, sexy standout of a historical thrill ride, The Best Bad Things is full of unforgettable characters and insatiable appetites. I was riveted. Painstakingly researched and pulsing with adrenaline, Carrasco’s debut will leave you thirsty for more.” —Lyndsay Faye, author of The Gods of Gotham”“A vivid, sexy barn burner of a historical crime novel, The Best Bad Things introduces readers to the fiery Alma Rosales—detective, smuggler, spy.”“It is 1887, and Alma Rosales is on the hunt for stolen opium. Trained in espionage by the Pinkerton Detective Agency—but dismissed for bad behavior and a penchant for going undercover as a man—Alma now works for Delphine Beaumond, the seductive mastermind of a West Coast smuggling ring.When product goes missing at their Washington Territory outpost, Alma is tasked with tracking the thief and recovering the drugs. In disguise as the scrappy dockworker Jack Camp, this should be easy—once she muscles her way into the local organization, wins the trust of the magnetic local boss and his boys, discovers the turncoat, and keeps them all from uncovering her secrets. All this, while sending coded dispatches to the circling Pinkerton agents to keep them from closing in.Alma’s enjoying her dangerous game of shifting identities and double crosses as she fights for a promotion and an invitation back into Delphine’s bed. But it’s getting harder and harder to keep her cover stories straight and to know whom to trust. One wrong move and she could be unmasked: as a woman, as a traitor, or as a spy.A propulsive, sensual tour de force, The Best Bad Things introduces Katrina Carrasco, a bold new voice in crime fiction.”I was fascinated by this description and requested to read The Best Bad Things. The book fits the description, but I was disappointed. Carrasco is an exceptional writer that will be around for a long time to come. I was disappointed as I struggled to find my way into the story as it was not as I had hoped from the onset, which made for slower reading than I prefer when I am reading a book that immediately pulls me into its world. I also struggled with believability. While a woman myself, I would never diminish the capabilities of another woman; however, I found the scenes where Alma Rosales would bind her breasts to make herself into Jack Camp by dressing (including adding padding to her pants to give the impression she had a penis), walking, talking, acting and fighting like a man were too farfetched for me. The men Jack Camp (Alma) tangled with were large strapping men, and while Jack Camp always walked away with bruises and other injuries, the other men took the brunt of the beating or died. A woman pretending to be a man in this manner was not practical to me, and we are talking about 1887.As an English major, I have to call it as I see it and I saw several things I would recommend correcting before publishing The Best Bad Things by Katrina Carrasco. Since what I reviewed is not the final product, I would like to hope the obvious will be edited more closely for a more gripping read. I won’t sugarcoat it; I often found myself stuck on grammar, the many misused dialogue tags of said and asked contributed to my inability to flow with the story and were distracting. The overwhelming sentence fragments, and the distractions of the time shifts, which made keeping up with exactly where I was in the story difficult as it jumped back and forth over the course of fifteen days. That said I have to give Carrasco credit for dating her chapters and letting you know beneath the date that the chapter you were starting was two days earlier, twelve days earlier, eleven days earlier, etc.; however, this did not alleviate the need to go back and forth while reading Carrasco’s book. This is a 3.5 Srar Novel. The Complete Review Can Be Found Here: www.dbmoone.com/2018/08/05/book-revie...
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  • Pamela
    January 1, 1970
    Alma Rosales is a former Pinkerton spy who was dismissed from the agency for being a rogue and for going undercover as Jack Camp. As the book opens, Alma is looking for a treasure trove of opium that has gone missing. She needs to find out who’s stolen it, who turned on the owner of the drugs, and how to keep her secrets secret. In the meantime, she’s also sending messages to Pinkerton agents to keep them from blowing her case and her identity. She is, however, having trouble not blowing her own Alma Rosales is a former Pinkerton spy who was dismissed from the agency for being a rogue and for going undercover as Jack Camp. As the book opens, Alma is looking for a treasure trove of opium that has gone missing. She needs to find out who’s stolen it, who turned on the owner of the drugs, and how to keep her secrets secret. In the meantime, she’s also sending messages to Pinkerton agents to keep them from blowing her case and her identity. She is, however, having trouble not blowing her own cover.The book starts off slowly, but quickly picks up momentum and, at breakneck speed, heads toward the end. There are enough twists and turns along the way to keep a reader turning pages into the wee hours of the morning. Carrasco’s real strength lies in her ability to evoke the period. Her stellar descriptions of place and time conjure up smells, grittiness, and sights that could only be found in a frontier town like Port Townsend in the 1880s. She is less adept at character development, though. Her writing is so well done, it will keep you reading even if you lose interest or don’t like the characters.This debut feels like it’s the start of the series featuring Alma Rosales. If so, sign me up for book two.Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for providing an eArc in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Holley Perry
    January 1, 1970
    If you were going to be a cross-dressing spy, do you think that you could be successful in hiding your true identity?In The Best Bad Things by Katrina Carrasco, it’s 1887 and Alma Rosales has been dismissed as a Pinkerton Detective. Her former boss, Delphine, is the leader of a drug smuggling ring. Delphine hires Alma to find out who is stealing the drugs.Alma decides to use the alias of Jack Camp and dress like a man to infiltrate the local drug organization. The only other person that knows th If you were going to be a cross-dressing spy, do you think that you could be successful in hiding your true identity?In The Best Bad Things by Katrina Carrasco, it’s 1887 and Alma Rosales has been dismissed as a Pinkerton Detective. Her former boss, Delphine, is the leader of a drug smuggling ring. Delphine hires Alma to find out who is stealing the drugs.Alma decides to use the alias of Jack Camp and dress like a man to infiltrate the local drug organization. The only other person that knows that she is a woman is Mr. Wheeler, the boss of the local dock workers.Apparently, she is just as convincing dressing as a man or as a woman. If it were me, I would be worried that I would get drunk and tell everyone all of my secrets.It must have been hard for Alma to trust anyone, even Delphine. She’s in love with Delphine but doesn’t always like her plans. I think Alma also has a crush on Wheeler and vice versa. She likes to dress as a man but I’m not sure if she wants to be a man.I can’t tell you how it ends but you won’t guess. I love it when I don’t guess the ending. It’s probably not going to end the way you think it would.I received an ebook from NetGalley in exchange for doing a review. All opinions are my own. Obviously.
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  • Kathy
    January 1, 1970
    Let's get one thing straight right off the bat: This is not a fluffy book. Sure, it' s got gratuitous violence, opium smuggling, a steamy will they/won't they sub plot, and a bisexual main character who is a former lady-detective turned cross-dressing crime ring fixer.Don't be fooled! This is really historical fiction with a side of mayhem!The world of 1887 Port Townsend is rendered in perfect detail, the opium ring smuggling operation is complex and dangerous and only Alma Rosales, undercover a Let's get one thing straight right off the bat: This is not a fluffy book. Sure, it' s got gratuitous violence, opium smuggling, a steamy will they/won't they sub plot, and a bisexual main character who is a former lady-detective turned cross-dressing crime ring fixer.Don't be fooled! This is really historical fiction with a side of mayhem!The world of 1887 Port Townsend is rendered in perfect detail, the opium ring smuggling operation is complex and dangerous and only Alma Rosales, undercover as "Jack Camp" can get to the bottom of it!I would recommend this book to folks who like historical fiction but wish it had a lot more bare knuckle fights and opium dens. FULL DISCLOSURE: I received an ARC of this book from Farrar Straus and Giroux/Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Kathleen Gray
    January 1, 1970
    Well, this was a surprise! Alma is a tough woman- she was fired from Pinkerton and now she's working for a drug smuggling ring trying to find stolen opium. Port Townsend Washington is rough and gritty and not the place one would expect a woman to sleuth so she goes undercover as Jack Camp. There's a lot of action as she makes her way among the bad guys. Delphine, her former lover and current employer, is not one you want to cross either. This was an interesting read largely because it turns the Well, this was a surprise! Alma is a tough woman- she was fired from Pinkerton and now she's working for a drug smuggling ring trying to find stolen opium. Port Townsend Washington is rough and gritty and not the place one would expect a woman to sleuth so she goes undercover as Jack Camp. There's a lot of action as she makes her way among the bad guys. Delphine, her former lover and current employer, is not one you want to cross either. This was an interesting read largely because it turns the expected on its head. Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC. For fans of historical fiction looking for something different.
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  • Sarah
    January 1, 1970
    I was really excited when I read the description for this book. A female Pinkerton agent, sent undercover into the opium trade sounded right up my alley. I have to say, I was a little disappointed. I couldn't get behind the character of Alma Rosales. For me she didn't elicit any kind of connection. The writing was also a bit off for me as well. The in between chapters with the prisoner interview, meant to provide foreshadowing and context, ended up just being confusing. Thanks to NetGalley for p I was really excited when I read the description for this book. A female Pinkerton agent, sent undercover into the opium trade sounded right up my alley. I have to say, I was a little disappointed. I couldn't get behind the character of Alma Rosales. For me she didn't elicit any kind of connection. The writing was also a bit off for me as well. The in between chapters with the prisoner interview, meant to provide foreshadowing and context, ended up just being confusing. Thanks to NetGalley for providing an ARC for review.
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