The Best Bad Things

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 GothamA vivid, sexy barn burner of a historical crime novel, The Best Bad...

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Title:The Best Bad Things
Author:Katrina Carrasco
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The Best Bad Things Reviews

  • Paul

    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:

  • Martha

    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

    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 recommend.

  • Kyra Leseberg (Roots & Reads)

    : 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

    : 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.

     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,

    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.

    For more full reviews, visit

  • Michelle

    I was pleasantly surprised by Katrina Carrasco's

    which I picked up through NetGalley. I thought the premise behind this story was new and refreshing. Set in America's Gilded Age,

    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

    I was pleasantly surprised by Katrina Carrasco's

    which I picked up through NetGalley. I thought the premise behind this story was new and refreshing. Set in America's Gilded Age,

    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 character Alma Rosales works as a detective. Her disguise is that of a man. She's taken on the persona of Jack Camp. As Camp , Alma is a spy, a detective and a tough as nails kick ass heroine. She has no problem using her sexual allure either as a male or as a female to get the job done. I hope that Carrasco's intention is to build a series around the character of Alma Rosales because I would certainly like to see more of her.

  • 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.

  • - ̗̀ DANY  ̖́- (danyreads)

    READ THIS REVIEW ON MY BLOG!!!

    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

    READ THIS REVIEW ON MY BLOG!!!

    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!!

  • Liz

    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.

  • 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.

    *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.

    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.

    Alma 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.

    It 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.

    The title

    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:

  • Sarah

    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.

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