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Gringo Nightmare: A Young American Framed for Murder in Nicaragua [Kindle Edition]

Eric Volz
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)

Kindle Price: $7.99
Sold by: Macmillan
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Book Description

In the spirit of Midnight Express and Not Without My Daughter comes the harrowing true story of an American held in a Nicaraguan prison for a murder he didn’t commit.


Eric Volz was in his late twenties in 2005 when he moved from California to Nicaragua.  He and a friend cofounded a bilingual magazine, El Puente, and it proved more successful than they ever expected. Then Volz met Doris Jiménez, an incomparable beauty from a small Nicaraguan beach town, and they began a passionate and meaningful relationship. Though the relationship ended amicably less than a year later and Volz moved his business to the capital city of Managua, a close bond between the two endured.

Nothing prepared him for the phone call he received on November 21, 2006, when he learned that Doris had been found dead---murdered---in her seaside clothing boutique. He rushed from Managua to be with her friends and family, and before he knew it, he found himself accused of her murder, arrested, and imprisoned.

Decried in the press and vilified by his onetime friends, Volz suffered horrific conditions, illness, deadly inmates, an angry lynch mob, sadistic guards, and the merciless treatment of government officials. It was only through his dogged persistence, the tireless support of his friends and family, and the assistance of a former intelligence operative that Eric was released, in December 2007, after more than a year in prison.

A story that made national and international headlines, this is the first and only book to tell Eric’s absorbing, moving account in his own words.


Visit the companion Exhibit Hall at the Gringo Nightmare website for additional photos, audio clips, video, case files, and more.

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

There is much pain in Volz's memoir of being a young American in a near-perfect frameup involving murder, tabloid headlines, police corruption, and political power plays in Nicaragua. In 2005, the author, then in his early 20s, established a bilingual magazine with a friend, settled in a small Nicaraguan town, and fell in love with the beautiful Doris Jiménez. Eventually, Volz moved to Managua, but remained close friends with Doris. So he was stunned in late 2006 to receive a call informing him that she was dead and even more stunned to find himself charged and harshly sentenced for her murder after a trial he describes as involving tampered evidence, coerced testimony, police incompetence, and betrayals. The vignettes of the prisons and cold-blooded inmates are scalding. After a bold campaign by his family and friends to put pressure on his captors, Volz was released and deported in December 2007. Volz describes a web of sinister international political acts involving even Nicaraguan president Daniel Ortega, whom he calls corrupt and duplicitous in this tale of everything that can go south for an American facing uncertain justice abroad. 8 pages of b&w photos. (May)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

When his former girlfriend, Doris Jimenez, was murdered in the small town where she lived, Volz became the primary suspect even though he was miles away in Managua at the time. He was a twentysomething American starting a new publication in Nicaragua, resented by some of the locals for what was perceived as his wealth and power. Despite a strong alibi and no physical evidence linking him to the crime, Volz was tried and sentenced to 30 years in prison. He began serving his sentence at one of the most notorious prisons in Nicaragua, where he had to navigate the violence and corruption to maintain his mental and physical health. His mother launched an international campaign to free her son, garnering press attention from CNN to the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post to counteract the scorching coverage of the crime in the local media, which portrayed him as an arrogant American looking to get away with murder, an image aided by the victim's mother. Volz was finally released after spending more than a year in prison and suggests that a cover-up of the identity of the real murderer goes to the top of Daniel Ortega's administration, known for its corruption. --Vanessa Bush

Product Details

  • File Size: 464 KB
  • Print Length: 304 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press; 1 edition (April 14, 2010)
  • Sold by: Macmillan
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B003H3IOR8
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #631,010 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
46 of 60 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Well-written but Self-Serving Account September 18, 2010
"Gringo Nightmare" is Eric Volz's compelling first-hand account of his high-profile arrest, conviction and imprisonment in Nicaragua for his alleged role in the 2006 murder of ex-girlfriend Doris Jimenez. The book is slick, nicely packaged, and a few first-edition typos notwithstanding, surprisingly readable. Mr. Volz is clearly a talented writer and this is without question a compelling story. But for anyone with first-hand knowledge of his case or experience with Nicaragua, many of his assertions strain credibility, and I was left wondering how much of this account is factually accurate, and how much is self-serving embellishment or outright fiction.

Is Nicaragua's judicial system really as corrupt as Volz asserts? Absolutely. Are Daniel Ortega and his Sandinista Front as virulently anti-"Yanqui" as this book suggests? No argument there. Did Eric murder Doris? Probably not. But beyond those fundamental issues, many of the assertions made in "Gringo Nightmare" are questionable and some are simply absurd (though undoubtedly credible from Mr. Volz's own perspective, which appears to suffer from an inflated sense of his own importance in Nicaraguan politics and world affairs).

Among the most absurd allegations:

--that Mr. Volz was a pawn in SAM-7 missile negotiations between Ortega and the U.S. Government. At the risk of sounding callous, U.S. foreign policy (particularly arms control and counter-terrorism issues) is almost never influenced by the plight of an individual citizen, and even someone as ideologically anti-American as Ortega is smart enough to realize that (never mind that Mr. Volz's arrest occurred under the administration of a staunchly pro-U.S. president who had no reason to conspire to falsely accuse a gringo of a murder he didn't commit).
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars engaging book! December 29, 2010
By Lola
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This book is so interesting and engaging. I was hooked instantly! I am horrified and fascinated at the same time. This is a must read!!! I have such compassion for those who are innocent in a horrific prison system.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gringo Nightmare February 1, 2011
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I purchased this book because I saw his nightmare unfold on TV. It was Horrible what he went through. At the end it said he wrote a book and I had to get into this further. To see how unfair & cruel prisons, police and government can be. What this young man went through was very horrific. His will to live and be free was very strong. The government and police very crooked. I know this is not over for this young man, nor for any other person arrested especially outside the USA... This young man needs our prayers.
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8 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing story May 5, 2010
By Hepcat
I have followed this story from very early on. I first picked up on the story from reading Tony D'Souza's magazine story. I have since followed the story closely, corresponded with Eric in prison, corresponded with his remarkable mom, written count less letters to ambassadors, the state department, legislators etc. trying to get action. I was overjoyed by his release. My point is that I thought I knew the story. I only knew the tiniest fraction of it. Wow, this is an amazing story that reshaped my understanding of latin America, Samoza, Ortega, the CIA, how the state department works, the power structure of Nicaragua, the prison system, political prisoners, and countless other things. The narrative voice is solid, and the delivery is compelling. Eric is a fine writer and a brave guy who has been through a surreal nightmare that few of us can imagine. The book also has a cool link to online exhibits that take the story to a whole extra level. Eric and St Martin's press have really done this right. It is a first class documentary as well as a hell of a read and I cannot recommend it enough.
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15 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A compelling read! Hard to put down. April 29, 2010
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
"Gringo Nightmare" is an exceptionally solid and compelling memoir about a year in the hell of Nicaraguan prison. Eric Volz was charged and convicted of the murder of a lovely young woman named Doris Jimenez, and although 10 witnesses placed him over 2 hours away at the time of the murder and no evidence linked him to the scene, he was sentenced to 30 years in jail. I have been following Eric's journey through the corrupt Nicaraguan legal system from early on, and so I was anxious to read his description of events. It was much worse than I had imagined... and yet, he tells the story with such detail, and paints such a multi-faceted picture of the people and events involved, that it is a hard book to put down. I got my copy 2 days before moving to a new home; well, several hours that should have been spent packing were lost to this book. And I think this would make a really good movie!
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Heart touching February 7, 2011
By Maripaz
A true survivor story. Eric Volz shares his abhorrent tale of being wrongfully accused in the repulsive murder of his once Nicaraguan girlfriend. His strength and persistence to fight for justice is admirable. A must read for anyone who has ever cared about human rights, justice, and overall powerful stories.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Another framed American May 1, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I recently read this great book after living a while in San Juan del sur Nicaragua.Eric writes with fine detail an honest account of exactly what happened to him.He certainly does not use this as a forum th whine about his situation however reminds all of us how vulnerable we can be outside of our country.I am Canadian and could see how different the Nicas were with us as compared with their prejudism re Americans.Now this is certainly not everyone but when you know the history of Nicaragua you see where it comes from. I sincerely hope Eric has a successful life and is able to put this behind him. A excellent book I would recommend to any young traveller.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Where in the World is Eric Volz Now?
Most provocative.
Published 3 months ago by elsey
4.0 out of 5 stars Now we know more about third world countries and their prison tactics.
Read this book for book club. Had trouble keeping up with all the political people and their names. overall an exciting read.
Published 12 months ago by Barbara Fliederbaum
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting
Sad about all the corruption. I feel Eric is definitely innocent. It was good reading and a true story. I had seen the 20 20 version of the story on TV.
Published 14 months ago by A Kindle Reader
1.0 out of 5 stars Guilty as hell
The girl he murdered was my wifes cousin. The sick bastard stayed in San Juan del Sur paying of corrupt police to destroy evidence. She was a beautiful sweet girl. Read more
Published 16 months ago by Mel Stevenson
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent read.
A friend sent the Kindle version to me which I read during my vacation near where the events occurred. Read more
Published 18 months ago by Ronalda Carlson
5.0 out of 5 stars 5 stars
Very good book. I'm so glad mr. Volz is free now. He was a very strong man to deal with the travesty he was caught up in. Kept my attention all the way.
Published 22 months ago by Janet S
2.0 out of 5 stars Arrogance Shines Through
I don't know about truth shining through in Gringo Nightmare, but Volz's arrogance certainly does. While Volz is painted as a near saint, his opponents are demonized or reduced to... Read more
Published on April 23, 2013 by El
5.0 out of 5 stars Love it
Very interesting changes my point of view from what I had heard about him and I couldn't believe what I read about that country and the horrible way they... Read more
Published on March 7, 2013 by Yaoska Solano
1.0 out of 5 stars Woe-is-me story of a vain sociopath
This story just doesn't add up and his delusions of grandeur as a pawn between two big countries (America has nothing better to do than to focus on freeing one man? Read more
Published on September 20, 2012 by ladeedah
5.0 out of 5 stars Powerful story!! A must read!
What an amazing and powerful story! This book was recommended by a friend for a vacation read, which I had a very hard time putting down once I started. Read more
Published on November 8, 2011 by J. Roberts
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More About the Author

ERIC VOLZ is a native of Northern California. He holds a degree in Latin American Studies from the University of California, San Diego. Other university level studies include coursework at the Universidad Autonoma de Guadalajara, Mexico, and upper division coursework at Ponifica Universidad Catolica Madre y Maestra, Dominican Republic.

In 2004, Eric moved to Nicaragua and launched EP Magazine, a successful, full-color, bi-lingual publication focusing on conscious living, cross-cultural understanding and sustainable development. His work with this project continued until November 2006 when he was falsely accused and wrongfully convicted for the rape and murder of his ex-girlfriend Doris Jiménez, and consequently sentenced to a 30-year prison term.

After spending over a year in the Nicaraguan Prison system, an appeals court overturned the conviction and Volz was released in December of 2007.

Since his release, Volz filed a petition in the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights of the Organization of American States, seeking a declaration of his innocence and protection under the American Convention on Human Rights from further persecution by the Government of Nicaragua. Although he is no longer behind bars, his case continues to test the role and authority of a supra-national tribunal with major potential to engage international policy discussions and subsequent reform.

He has been a guest on and featured in The Today Show, CNN, NBC News, PBS, Telemundo and Univision, New York Times, Washington Post, WSJ, People and NPR.

As a dedicated journalist, Eric acknowledges a responsibility to utilize the lessons carried by his experience to generate education and potential reform.

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