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The Best Bad Things
Katrina Carrasco
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The Best Bad Things

3.35  ·  Rating details ·  1,051 ratings  ·  241 reviews
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
Published November 6th 2018 by MCD/FSG
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Average rating 3.35  · 
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 ·  1,051 ratings  ·  241 reviews

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Scarlett Readz and Runz....Through Novel Time & Distance
*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:

Oct 25, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: netgalley

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
I was pleasantly surprised by Katrina Carrasco's The Best Bad Things which I picked up through NetGalley. I thought the premise behind this story was new and refreshing. Set in America's Gilded Age, The Best Bad Things illustrates how women were treated during that time, the juxtaposition of poverty with the onset of industrialization. Carrasco takes advantage of these happenings highlighting the building of the Railroad system and the opium epidemic within the context of the story. The main cha ...more
What an ending!!!! One whole extra star for the ending alone. Damn!!

This historical crime / thriller novel is about a cross dressing former government spy who now works for an opium smuggling ring in the 1880s. Her boss Delphine (a fellow queer woman of colour) has sent her to investigate opium that's gone missing. This plot was a bit too smart for me -- I had trouble keeping track of characters and threads. This has happened to me before with mysteries, I guess my brain is not inclined that way
Oct 26, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I was so excited to read this one, but it really ended up being a let down for me! I couldn't finish it. I found the writing really dense and dry and I was just so bored. Apparently fighting and opium smuggling are not my thing. A lot of people clearly had a much better experience, so I'd say give it a try if the blurb sounds interesting, but this one was just not for me.

*I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Kyra Leseberg (Roots & Reads)
Oct 06, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arc
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
Aug 02, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
May 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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:

Please check out all my reviews:
Alma Rosales is both interesting, and extremely frustrating. She’s a former Pinkerton’s agent, so is versed in conducting an investigation, using cyphers, and other skills. Problem is, she’s actually working on the other side of the law, for Delphine Beaumond, the head of a smuggling organization. Alma arrives in Port Townsend, Washington, from San Francisco to sort out problems for Delphine, all the while hoping to make it back to Delphine’s bed.
Alma sets to work rooting out the mole in Delphin
- ̗̀ DANY  ̖́- (danyreads)
. : ☾⋆ — 3 ★


ARC 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
Feb 17, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Best Bad Things by Katrina Carrasco is a multi-layered novel based in the 1880's Pacific Northwest that details the infiltration of the opium drug smuggling business by Alma Rosales. It is not a spoiler to describe Rosales employs the disguise of different characters in her investigation, including that as portraying herself as a rough and tumble man named Jack Camp.

Rosales, once worked for the Pinkerton Agency and now as both Jack Camp and Alma Rosales, is now employed by a bi-racial, belie
And the award for most apt title goes to…! This book is seriously gritty, dark, bloody, at times disturbing, and after listing those descriptors I’m not sure I can articulate why I liked it so much. Maybe because, like its main character, it doesn’t apologize for how nasty it is. Alma Rosales, sometimes known as Jack Camp, is a former Pinkerton agent who is now working her way up the ladder in a smuggling ring headed by her beautiful onetime lover, Delphine. When she’s summoned from San Francisc ...more
Kasa Cotugno
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.
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
Jun 03, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I found this book to be a chore. The concept seemed strong: in the late 19th century in the Washington Territory, a former Pinkerton's Women's Bureau agent turned gangland enforcer passes as a man to make her way through the criminal underworld. But Alma Rosales doesn't turn out to be that interesting a character. She's almost comically incapable of thinking about anything apart from rough sex and violence (we know this because it comes up on almost every page), and although she might want to cl ...more
Jul 28, 2018 rated it it was ok
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.
Nov 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The highest compliment I can pay this book is to say that it completely consumed my brain while I was reading it -- everything that happened in my day made me think of it, and I spent most of my waking moments at least 15% in its world. Everything in that world is distinctive and fully formed, from the environment to the relationships and the characters, and the comfort with which Carrasco addresses the complexities of gender is impressive and reassuring.

So, basically: Better than Cats, would r
Dec 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

I came for a great read and I got a major motion picture in my head! Reading The Best Bad Things is like being plunged into a queer historical action-adventure movie, with the character-driven nuance of prestige TV—and literary fiction. To say that this novel pulses with life is as close to literal as can be; Katrina Carrasco takes us inside the physicality of her fearless, calculating, inimitable protagonist Alma Rosales to a degree I’ve rarely experienced before as a reader, and all without re
Aug 15, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobooks
The Best Bad Things was a huge disappointment for me. I was initially intrigued by this book because of the description of the main character: a bisexual female private detective in the late 1800s, who regularly dresses as a man to go undercover. Yes, please! Unfortunately, the protagonist (Alma Rosales) is the only remotely interesting thing about this book. And even she remained somewhat underdeveloped.

The plot, centered on an opium smuggling ring and the various allegiances and betrayals with
Geonn Cannon
May 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Shirley Eiswerth (Quackenbush)
I usually side with the “good guys” a lot of the time, but I’m a book with none, you have no choice. Brawling, opium smuggling, and some steamy bisexual scenes, set in the late 1800’s out west with cutthroat murderers and a lady running the entire show... pretty good overall.. the ending left my mouth hanging open... if there is a second one I’ll read it... writing was good, seemed to be a lot of research on the time period, just the way the different sexes were written seemed sort of stereotypi ...more
Been describing this as "If Quentin Tarantino were a queer woman and wrote historical fiction," and I stand by that it. Gritty but not depressing, sexy, violent, and a TON of fun to read (more fun than watching a Tarantino movie). Alma/Jack, the brawling, careless, ambitious character at the heart of this novel is just unforgettable. I have a few quibbles, but this was so unusual and engaging that I can mostly ignore them. ...more
This bloody, thrilling, mysterious book left me breathless and wanting more. It’s unlike anything else, a remarkable and revelatory debut tackling the intersections of gender, violence, lust, greed, and power against the historical backdrop of late 19th century Washington State in the age of mining, shipping, and opium smuggling. This novel’s protagonist resists gender categorization although many will likely attempt to put Alma Rosales and Jack Camp into neat boxes. Don’t fall for it. Stay in t ...more
Jan 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Queer bisexual mystery of my dreams, where have you been all my life?!

I love queer, subversive characters. Gritty mysteries. Well-written sexual tension. Yet I've never gotten all three in one book -- until The Best Bad Things. I found myself constantly delighted by how Carrasco's characters transgress the social norms we (or at least I) usually assume were in place during the late 1800s. As a queer person, it was so incredibly refreshing to read.

The book really picked up for me about halfway t
Oct 26, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arc-netgalley
I received this from 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.

Oct 07, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dnf, arc, net-galley
Kept having to force myself to pick it back up and continue. Just didn’t grab my attention, so I finally gave up at 21%
A novel set in 1887 in Port Townsend, Washington, starring Alma Rosales: ex-Pinkerton detective, current opium smuggler. Alma is newly arrived in Port Townsend, and is there on a mission. Part One: figure out who is the head of the opium game in town. Part Two: take his place. As you might imagine, this turns out to be far more complicated than she originally planned, and the plot turns on blackmail, murder, torture, bribes, backstabbing, moles, broken promises, fake interrogations, mistaken ide ...more
4.5 stars, rounded up.

I mean, what a ride! I thoroughly, thoroughly enjoyed this. It was hard to put down.

Alma Rosales/Jack Camp is the gender fluid spy/hitter/general badass mixed-race bisexual protagonist you've been waiting for. I also love that she has the same first name as my maternal great-grandmother. It's very amusing to think of Alma Sweet (my great grandmother) being at all as wild as Alma Rosales.

Alma is a double agent for a government-run detective agency, and for an opium smugglin
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Katrina Carrasco's short stories have appeared in Witness, Post Road, Quaint, and other journals. Her nonfiction can be found at Autostraddle, CrimeReads, Literary Hub, and elsewhere. She has been awarded residencies at Yaddo, Blue Mountain Center, I-Park, Jentel, Willapa Bay AiR, and Mineral School, and received a 2017 Grants for Artist Projects award from Artist Trust. She lives in Seattle with ...more

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