The Best Bad Things

The Best Bad Things

by Katrina Carrasco


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“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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780374123697
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publication date: 11/06/2018
Pages: 400
Sales rank: 220,001
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.10(h) x 2.30(d)

About the Author

Katrina Carrasco holds an MFA in fiction from Portland State University, where she received the Tom and Phyllis Burnam Graduate Fiction Scholarship and the Tom Doulis Graduate Fiction Writing Award. Her work has appeared in Witness magazine, Post Road Magazine, Quaint Magazine, and other journals. The Best Bad Things is her first novel.

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The Best Bad Things: A Novel 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
IslandLyricist More than 1 year ago
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 throughout 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. Time shifts in literature are not an easy feat for any author, but to ensure the writer does not lose their reader, the writer must have time shifts perfected in their writing for the sake of their readers. Additionally, there were so many secondary characters that at times it was confusing as to who was with whom. On a side note, Carrasco was precise with describing her characters, the fighting and sexual scenes, whether real or imagined. However, The Best Bad Things takes place over a period of fifteen days, and a lot is happening with a host of characters in the story plot in a short amount of time. The missing words were a distraction. Alma is written as Alms in one instance that I observed, and “God damn it” is not written correctly; it’s either “Goddammit or God Damnit.” I also struggled with tying the title The Best Bad Things to the story. My review may sound as if I am discouraging readers from buying Carrasco’s book, but that would be incorrect. I find Carrasco to be an incredibly talented writer who will be around for a long time in the literature world. It’s hard when a reviewer receives an unedited book to read, and as an English major, it makes it twice as hard because there’s no missing the things an everyday reader would potentially not notice. To be clear, I DO recommend Carrasco’s book. I checked 4 STARS as I could not check 3.5 STARS. - D.B. Moone
WyHalo More than 1 year ago
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 and Giroux via NetGalley. This is my honest review.
suekitty13 More than 1 year ago
This one is not for the faint of heart. It’s an extremely gritty and graphic crime novel set in the 1880’s and featuring a gender fluid main character. There’s copious sex and violence and a complex mystery regarding organized crime and the theft of opium. I have to admit that after the first few chapters I thought it might be too intense for me and considered giving up. I’m no prude and usually not too disturbed by violence but this was pretty extreme and I wasn’t sure it was going to be for me. I’m so glad I continued because I ended up loving it! I read a fair bit of historical fiction and this one stood out, not just for its brutality and carnality but also for its ability to put me right in the scenes with the characters, often an unpleasant place indeed! The story was incredibly detailed and well-written but the writing was very dense so it took me longer than usual to chew my way through. The plot was complex and it took some thought to keep all the characters and their allegiances straight. This was not a quick and easy read but in the end I was rewarded by a tremendously compelling story, vivid scenes and characters that felt like real people. No one was entirely good or bad and that was strangely appealing. Alma for the most part seemed uncomfortable playing the role of a woman and with the limited freedoms available to most women at this time it’s no surprise that it was a lot easier for Alma to wear a man’s clothes and take the role of Jack. This allowed her to do her job as a detective and to infiltrate the opium rings. She could switch back and forth as the situation required. She did seem very comfortable as a man but I’m not sure if this is because she wants to be a man or if she just finds it expedient for her purposes. Either way, she was a fascinating character and seeing how she could change her body, posture and mannerisms to suit her chosen character was pretty darn incredible. Although dealing with a completely different subject matter it kind of reminded me of the TV show “Orphan Black” in which one actress, Tatiana Maslany, plays the vast majority of characters. That type of chameleon quality is exactly how I envision Alma. The ending wasn’t entirely shocking as I suspected it might be the only possible conclusion but it sure was breathtaking and a complete punch in the gut (and the heart.) This is truly one of the best historical fiction books I have read. It’s a crime novel, a vivid depiction of a particular time and place, and an exploration of gender and identity all wrapped into an entertaining story. Highly recommended! Thank you Farrar, Straus and Giroux for providing an Electronic Advance Reader Copy via NetGalley for review.
JCNash More than 1 year ago
4.5 Stars Rounded Up I loved this historical fiction about the Port Townsend opium smuggling ring set during the late 19th century. Our heroine, Alma Rosales (or Jack Camp) is a former Pinkerton with a penchant for danger, who is working for Delphine, the mastermind of the opium-smuggling ring in San Francisco and Port Townsend. Alma is probably the most unapologetically gender-fluid character I have ever read and I enjoyed every second of it. In fact, I enjoyed each of the characters Carrasco writes; even the most minor character is someone you understand. Carrasco really plays with gender identity in this novel, giving us both Alma's views on gender, as well as describing how others react to her depending on which character she is playing. What is particularly interesting is how characters who know her true identity react to her when she is acting as a man. The pacing of this book is excellent... it never slows down and the reader is always waiting for what happens next. The ending has the feeling of an Ocean's 11 plotline, where you are cheering for a violent opium smuggler full stop all the way to the last word. The only thing I wished for was more of Alma's backstory. The author drops hints here and there of the life Alma led before the Pinkertons and her life of crime, but I would have liked a fuller picture. Other than that, this book is fantastic and I enthusiastically recommend it! I received a free review copy from the publisher through Netgalley. All opinions are my own.
Sunshine1006 More than 1 year ago
Port Townsend, Washington Territory, 1887. Alma has been working undercover for the Pinkerton Agency until she is dismissed for not following orders. As her alter ego, Jack Camp, she is able to infiltrate places no woman can go. In her manly disguise, she works as a dockworker looking for a shipment of opium. Only now she works for Delphine, a woman that Alma is also having an affair with. Since she is bisexual, Delphine is not her only lover. After infiltrating a local gang and looking for a promotion, she is risking everything. I liked this book, but I didn't love it. I didn't think Alma was believable as a spy. I liked Nathaniel Wheeler most of any of the other characters. It is written in a time where women were limited in what they could do. Being part of Pinkerton was something special. I received this book from Net Galley and Farrar, Straus and Giroux for a honest review and no compensation otherwise.The opinions expressed are my own.