Finding Amalia

San José el Huayate, Chiapas, Mexico © Google Maps

The intercepted photos had no identifying information. An anonymous hotel, the man’s face fuzzed. But there was something in the photo that caught Detective Cotti’s eye.

She zoomed in on the sliver of landscape between the motel curtains, just behind the girl’s haunted stare. Cerulean sky, beige sand, and in between—the weathered gray of a thatched roof. A palapa.

“Can you enhance this?” she asked.

“Chamaedorea palm,” the inspector said. “Native to Guatemala and Mexico.”

From there, Cotti narrowed it down to Pacific shore, further south than Oaxaca, and north of Tapachula, based on the dun color of the wide beach.

From Acapulco, she worked her way down the coast. At each seaside hacienda, she’d park, walk the shore, looking for a match. She was closing in, she could feel it. She parked, checked her weapon, and started down the beach.

She’d find the girl. She’d bring her home.


150 words

This has been an edition of What Pegman Saw. To read more stories inspired by the prompt, visit What Pegman Saw. Click here to submit your own.


    1. Thanks for the reblog Henrietta!

  1. I love that! Gripping action. Somehow you give me confidence that she really will bring the girl home.

    1. 🙂 I think she will. She’s a determined one, for sure. Thanks for reading!

  2. Well, why hasn’t Detective Cotti got her own long running series of books? You can tell she’s a terrier – dogged, determined, riteous. I wonder if there’s something special about this girl that draws Cotti in, something about her history that chimes with Cotti’s own, or a previous case she couldn’t solve that ended in tragedy. Beautifully done Karen

    1. Hehe, you’re sweet Lynn. I have thought about Detective Cotti many times. She lives in my head. Brought her out of the drawer to take 150 words for a spin. Thanks for reading.

      1. Well, maybe she should come out a little more often. You could surely squeeze one of her novels in between writing all the other projects you have slated 😉

      2. Lol isn’t that the truth. I imagine the same is true for you. If only we could fast forward and slow-mo time at will!

      3. Just doubling the number of hours in a day would be a start 🙂

  3. Bring her home dead or alive? Nice detective suspense compressed in a few words.

    1. I hope alive! Thanks for reading James!

  4. I love detective work like this, narrowing in on the seeming unimportant details until they crack the case. Understanding things like what tree grows where can make or break such cases. Loved it.

  5. Great story. I love how quickly you use the zoom feature of Google Maps to move the plot forward. Detective Cotti sounds like a modern Sherlock Holmes. You may have a serial character on your hands.

  6. Another weekly one I need to get back to. Sigh.

    1. Please do. It’s a great practice, a wonderful creative break 🙂

  7. Such determination wrapped up in a clever mind. So very well done.

  8. With such tenacity I’m sure she will be successful!

    1. I hope so! Thanks for reading 🙂

  9. peterkirsch

    How methodical! Now that’s determination.

  10. A read full of suspense with a floating ending, tinged by your writing style of understatement. As josh says, a great read.

    1. You are very kind. Always great to see you Kelvin!

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