Trigger Warning: violence towards women, rape, torture, murder
The plot: Set in a Mexican border town Kelly Courter a washed-up American boxer with an addiction to heroin is accused of murdering his girlfriend. His only defender is Rafael Sevilla, a Mexican detective with a tragic past. On the quest for justice and truth Sevilla is drawn into the corrupt and depraved world of organised crime.
Kelly is deeply flawed man, he sells and takes drugs, cons tourists and has absconded to Mexico to avoid the police in America. His only redeeming features are his love for Paloma and his loyalty to his friend. Although I sympathised with his guilt and grief over Paloma's death, I also felt he should be held accountable for his earlier crime.
It is also debatable whether Sevilla is a hero or an anti-hero. He participates in vigilante justice and accepts police brutality, but it is perhaps because he has no other choice. It is quite clear from the outset who the perpetrators of the femicides is, which is lucky as Sevilla doesn't seem to be a very good detective. In fairness though, the novel isn't really a detective novel, it is more about social problems and the crime itself, rather than how crimes are solved.
The main criticism I have with the Dead Women of Juarez is the lack of female characters. I think how the women of the city cope and feel with the epidemic of violence directed towards them should have been included. More attention should have been give to the female activists, as it would have given the narrative more balance, women wouldn't be just be passive victims, but active voices for change and justice. The novel was inspired by two organisations Las Mujeres De Negro (the Women in Black) and Voces Sin Eco (Voices without Echo) so it is frustrating that women in are not given more of a voice.
|pink crosses erected by Las Mujeres De Negro mark the graves of murdered women in Juarez|
If your interested in social justice or women's rights I'd recommend this book. It introduced me to an issue I was unaware of and I'm really interested to learn more about Las Mujeres De Negro and Voces Sin Eco and the work that they do.