Untamed Shore

In this dark coming-of-age noir, a “Patricia Highsmith-like tale of grifts and con artists” (Crime Time), a young woman becomes embroiled in a web of lies and deceit—with potentially deadly consequences—from the New York Times bestselling author of Mexican Gothic and Velvet Was the Night

Untamed Shore is a fever dream of a thriller, a coming-of-age tale set amidst disturbing and dangerous circumstances.”—Book Page

Baja California, 1979: Viridiana spends her days under the harsh sun, watching the fishermen pulling in their nets and the dead sharks piled beside the seashore. Her head is filled with dreams of romance, travel and of a future beyond this drab town where her only option is to marry and have children.

When a wealthy American writer arrives with his wife and brother-in-law, Viridiana jumps at the offer of a job as his assistant, and she’s soon entangled in the glamorous foreigners’ lives. They offer excitement, and perhaps an escape from her humdrum life. When one of them dies, eager to protect her new friends, Viridiana lies – but soon enough, someone’s asking questions. It’s not long before Viridiana has some of her own questions about the identities of her new acquaintances.

Sharks may be dangerous, but there are worse predators nearby, ready to devour a naïve young woman unwittingly entangled in a web of deceit.

Publisher: Quercus (UK)/ Penguin Random House (USA)
Reprint: 2023
Original Publication Year: 2020
ISBN: 9781529426328 (UK) /978-059360052 (USA)


Rich in atmosphere and sinister in tone… a haunting lesson in the dangers of desire and the illusion of glamour and how dreams can be devoured by deceit.

—Hank Phillipi Ryan, bestselling author of The Murder List

Atmospheric, compelling and very suspenseful, Untamed Shore is a welcome addition to the genre.

—Alison Gaylin, Edgar Award-winning author

Set in a small Baja town in the seedy 1970s, Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s latest takes us into a world soaked in sunshine and secrets, where everyone is working an angle and the looming sense of menace builds with nearly each page-turn.

—Julia Dahl author of the award-winning Rebekah Roberts series

Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s characters are unforgettable and no one and nothing is quite what they seem. I devoured this like one of Viridiana’s sharks.

—Amina Akhtar, author of #FashionVictim

This is a novel about greed, murder, and snowballing peccadilloes that moves forward with the power and grace of a shark. Don’t miss it.

—Gabino Iglesias, author of Zero Saints

A sense of inevitable dread builds from seemingly innocuous events in this masterful crime debut from Silvia Moreno-Garcia. The period detail is fantastic, the Mexican setting vibrant and fresh, and the noir is as murky as seawater after a shark feeding frenzy.

—Lavie Tidhar, award-winning author of A Man Lies Dreaming

A plot driven by characters whose motives are as murky and treacherous as stormy gulf waters.

— Mario Acevedo, author of the Felix Gomez series

This thriller sets a quiet tone before building slowly and evenly, showing how a meek teenager trapped by circumstance grows into a strong woman who takes control of her future, though in the end it might change who she is.

—Library Journal

The descriptions of Baja are uncommonly evocative of gritty reality… this insightful look at criminal life from the viewpoint of a sardonic yet lonely soul seems destined for more plaudits


Both a coming of age tale and a Patricia Highsmith-like tale of grifters and con artists set in Baja California, along a coastline full of rotting shark skeletons and oppressive patriarchal mores.” Book of the Month!

—Crime Time

Weaving suspense, murder, romance, and the throes of young adulthood together, Untamed Shore is a page-turner that will leave you hooked…

—Criminal Element

Untamed Shore is a fever dream of a thriller, a coming-of-age tale set amidst disturbing and dangerous circumstances.

—Book Page

Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s Untamed Shore is an engrossing book set in 1979, in a seaside Baja California town known for its shark fishing… Untamed Shore takes us through Viridiana’s loss of innocence, then into her heightened sense of awareness, and finally into a plan for a better life.

—Mystery Scene

Brutality takes on an almost divine quality.

—LA Review of Books

“Steeped in desert lore, coastal wildness and lurid dreams, this evocative noir novel is both mystery and coming-of-age story.”

—The Bookseller

“Not for the first time, the thing that impresses me most about Moreno-Garcia’s writing is how vivid and palpable her descriptions are. She creates a tense and bleak sun-baked, sea-swept atmosphere, full of disquieting suspense and old-fashioned, black and white movie crime.”