Rosarito Beach by M.A. Lawson

A sexy renegade DEA agent’s past resurfaces at the worst possible moment in a new series from (a barely disguised) Mike Lawson.


Mike Lawson, creator of the Joe DeMarco thrillers (House Odds et al.), uses the pen name M. A. Lawson to launch a new series, Rosarito Beach, with a new protagonist: DEA agent Kay Hamilton. Hamilton brings a take-no-prisoners attitude to her investigations, and though it’s clear she makes a better field agent than supervisor, she’s assigned to lead a team in Southern California investigating Caesar Olivera, the boss of a major Mexican drug cartel. After arresting the kingpin’s little brother, Tito, Hamilton’s main concern becomes keeping him locked up. Even after Tito is transferred to the brig of a vast Marine base, however, Caesar’s army threatens.

Hamilton dislikes authority figures, enjoys a drink or four, picks fights with every other law enforcement agency in town and knows exactly how to use her good looks and hot body to her advantage. She follows her own personal code, pleased to be beholden to no one except herself, involved with her career and personal pursuits–mainly her sex life–until a mystery from her distant past resurfaces. This new addition to her short list of concerns reorders Hamilton’s priorities and drives her to actions, and crimes, she never thought possible. The DEA fights to keep Tito locked up, the cartel arms itself for action and Hamilton rejects protocol in an accelerating race toward the end game, which concludes with all the fireworks and upheaval a thriller fan craves.

This review originally ran as a *starred review* in the January 3, 2014 issue of Shelf Awareness for Readers. To subscribe, click here, and you’ll receive two issues per week of book reviews and other bookish fun!

Rating: 5 stiletto heels.

To expand a bit on my review, above: this thriller was suspenseful, had pace and momentum, and kept me interested and engaged. Its fault (and the reason my rating isn’t higher) relates to the caricatures of the characters. Hollywood-style, they were all beautiful, had smokin’-hot bods, and dressed like magazine spreads. Similarly, the hero’s coldly detached interest in sex without strings struck me as unrealistic and a little stereotyped – career-obsessed woman not interested in relationships but able to seduce her way into the most highly-guarded yadda yadda. There was a cartoon element to it, is what I’m saying. On the other hand, though, I stayed up late reading avidly to see what would happen next. So I may have rolled my eyes, but Lawson gets the win in the end.

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