Tag Archives: crime in Mexcio

Book review: The Dead Women of Juarez

It’s a tough sell setting crime fiction against a backdrop of real life horrors without coming across as sensationalist or trivial. But this is precisely what Sam Hawken attempts to do in his first book, Dead Women of Juarez, and pulls it off fantastically.

The real life horror in question takes place in the Mexican city of Juarez, just across the border from the United States. Juarez is famous for two things: as a magnet for multinational companies seeking cheap, mainly female, labour, and the fact since 1993 as many as 5,000 women have been murdered there and no one has been brought to justice.

Hawken inserts into this picture the fictional character of Kelly Courter, a washed up, junkie boxer who makes a living as a punching bag for younger, hungrier Mexican fighters. As a sideline, he traffics and sells drugs for Esteban, his friend and the brother of Kelly’s on again, off again girlfriend and women’s rights activist, Paloma.

Kelly is in self-exile in Juarez, escaping the legal and moral consequences of a fatal mistake, the details of which we learn much later on in the book. It’s a day-by-day struggle to survive in a tough town, constantly being shadowed by grizzled Mexican narcotics cop, Sevilla, apparently intent on busting Kelly for his illegal activities.… Read more