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The Dead Women of Juarez Paperback – October 16, 2012

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Editorial Reviews

Review


"the book roars into gear as a bluntly forceful hard-boiled thriller that also manages to address, movingly and respectfully, its troubling subject matter" -Publishers Weekly

About the Author

Sam Hawken is a native of Texas now living on the east coast of the United States. A graduate of the University of Maryland, he pursued a career as an historian before turning to writing. The Dead Women of Juárez is his first novel.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Serpent's Tail (October 16, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1846687748
  • ISBN-13: 978-1846687747
  • Product Dimensions: 7.8 x 5.1 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,198,901 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Sam Hawken is the prize-listed and bestselling author of The Borderland Trilogy from Serpent's Tail -- THE DEAD WOMEN OF JUÁREZ, TEQUILA SUNSET and MISSING -- which chronicles three tales from Mexico's intractable drug war.

December 2015 marks the debut of THE NIGHT CHARTER, the first book in the Camaro Espinoza series from Mulholland Books. A woman with a violent past is drawn into a deadly game of kidnapping and murder. Her only motivation: protecting a 14-year-old girl from the people who would end her life.

When not writing, Hawken is a husband and the father of a son with autism. He encourages donations to the Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore, Maryland.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By D. Moore on March 18, 2011
Format: Paperback
This is one of the darkest, bleakest, most brilliant books I've ever read. Kelly Courter is a jaded, worn-out boxer. Drugs, drink, and a series of fights where he's basically used as a punching bag, are a far cry from his previous successful career in Texas. The one bright spot in his life is his girlfriend Paloma - a volunteer at an organisation trying to get justice for the hundreds of women who have disappeared in Juarez in recent years. Many of them have been found murdered. Some have never been found. Senseless brutality, poverty, fear, hopelessness and desperation soak the pages of this book. I felt utterly sad and drained after I'd finished it. It's only January, but I already know it will be on my best of 2011 list. It's really stunning in an 'oh my god, tell me that didn't just happen' sort of way. This book is so dark and gritty and hard-boiled that you feel as though somebody's locked you in a cellar and thrown seven tons of coal down on top of you before boiling you so hard you need a pickaxe to get out. Sorry, that was a very forced metaphor. It's bloody dark, OK?
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Ripple on December 21, 2010
Format: Paperback
Although the story related here is a work of fiction, the situation is based on fact. The Mexican border city of Juárez has a shocking problem with female homicides (usually young and invariably pretty). Official statistics put the number of murders at 400 since 1993 while, we are told, residents believe that the true number of disappeared women is closer to 5000. But attention to this problem is diverted by drug crime, although the two may not be entirely unrelated. Anything that raises public awareness of this terrible situation, such as Hawken's book, is to be encouraged.

So much for the fact, what about the fiction?

If I had to use one word to sum up this book, it would be `cinematic'. Partly, this is down to the story being told in a series of short chapters, often only four or five pages long, that gives the impression of a movie-type story. Partly too it's achieved though a lot of dialogue. It would be no surprise to me if this story were to be picked up by a Hollywood studio and it would make a decent enough action movie. There's a prime part for a beaten up American boxer, down on his luck and resorting to drug use. A part too for his beautiful Mexican girlfriend who does good work in helping the families of the missing women. And for added gratias, there's a great part for an old-school Mexican cop, close to retirement and determined to get to the bottom of the problem of the missing women (for missing, read `presumed dead') but having to do so outside of the confines of conventional measures. And there's plenty of action scenes.

This is not tourist Mexico of `spring break', but the poor, drug-ridden, alcohol-soaked, violent underbelly of life. A lot of the violence is graphically portrayed and quite shocking.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Camilla Rose on October 3, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The Dead Women of Juarez is an excellent novel about events that are all too real. I could not put the book down and wanted more. I hope there is a sequel coming forth in the future.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Elizabeth A. White on October 12, 2012
Format: Paperback
Once a promising boxer, American Kelly Courter found himself in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico after his dance with drugs and alcohol resulted in a horrific accident he chose to flee from rather than face the consequences. He still boxes, though now it's his job to play the role of human punching bag for up-and-coming young Mexican fighters in unsanctioned smoker fights. He also makes a little money on the side by helping his friend Estéban sell marijuana and repackaged prescription pills bought dirt cheap from farmacias and sold at tremendous markup to clueless turistas. It's not an ideal existence by any stretch of the imagination, but Kelly does have one bright spot in his life, Estéban's sister, Paloma, with whom Kelly is involved.

Though Paloma is romantically involved with Kelly, her passion lies with Mujeres Sin Voces, an organization dedicated to seeking justice for the countless young women of Ciudad Juárez who go missing every year. Sometimes the women are found murdered, but more often than not they simply disappear, never to be seen again. The polícia are no help, they more than have their hands full fighting a losing battle against the drug cartels, leaving the families of the missing to seek what justice they can on their own.

Detective Rafael Sevilla is a man close to retirement, having put nearly thirty years of his life into the drug wars. Most recently he's had Estéban on his radar, occasionally leaning on Kelly to try and get the name of Estéban's heroin supplier, information Kelly honestly doesn't know having steered clear of that end of Estéban's business.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Danuta Reah on March 30, 2013
Format: Paperback
Novels based on recent, real life events are too often unrealistic and unsatisfying if a writer tries to fictionalise a reality that is too close (see all too many `real crime' books based on the writer's imagination rather than well-researched facts).
The Dead Women of Juarez could so easily fall into this trap, and yet the skill behind this debut novel is the believable world it creates as it takes the reader into the dark town of Juarez on the Mexican border where over 3000 women have been murdered in the past twenty years. Most vanish and are never seen again: rarely, a body is found showing evidence of torture and rape. These murders, the feminicidios, lie at the heart of this truly noir thriller.
Hawken does not engage directly with the murders, or not at first. He takes us into the life of Kelly Courter, a man who has washed up in Juarez after the failure of a once promising career as a boxer. Images and stories of the missing and dead women are part of the environment of this town, quite literally. In the heart of the town a telegraph pole holds photographs of the missing women, photographs that are added to day on day. These images become abruptly personal for Coulter when his girlfriend Paloma is kidnapped.
The book undergoes an abrupt switch of narrator half way through. Courter's voice is replaced by that of Rafael Sevilla, a police officer who has lost his daughter to the Juarez killers. This is a risky strategy, but Hawken carries it off and the narrative and action move forward smoothly.
This is a dark and violent book, about a dark and violent world. The action is fast, the dialogue is convincing and fast-paced, and the central characters, Coulter and Sevilla are convincing and sympathetic in their flawed humanity. Only the voices of the women are missing - Hawken's Juarez is a world of men. Nonetheless, it is a powerful and gripping book, a thriller in the true sense of the word.
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