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The Dead Women of Juárez [Paperback]

Sam Hawken
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
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Book Description

3 Nov 2011

Since 1993 over 500 women have been murdered in Ciudad Juárez.

Residents believe the true number of disappeared stands at 5,000.

When a new disappearance is reported, Kelly Courter, a washed-up Texan boxer, and Rafael Sevilla, a Mexican detective, are sucked into an underworld of organised crime, believing they can outwit the corruption all around. The Dead Women of Juárez follows these two men obsessed with seeking the truth about the female victims of the Mexican border wars.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Serpent's Tail (3 Nov 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1846687748
  • ISBN-13: 978-1846687747
  • Product Dimensions: 19.7 x 13 x 1.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 67,416 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Sam Hawken is a novelist whose mainstream publishing career began in 2011 with the publication in the United Kingdom of THE DEAD WOMEN OF JUÁREZ, a crime novel that used the real-life tragedy of female homicides in the Mexican city of Ciudad Juárez as the stepping-off point for a story of corruption, despair and tragedy. It was shortlisted by the Crime Writers Association for the John Creasy New Blood Dagger.

TEQUILA SUNSET followed in 2012, returning once again to Ciudad Juárez and its sister city, El Paso, Texas. This time Hawken drew upon the legacy of the infamous gang Barrio Azteca, at one time responsible for over 80% of the murders in Juárez, formerly the murder capital of the world. Once again, the Crime Writers Association recognized Hawken's work, nominating TEQUILA SUNSET for the Gold Dagger (best crime novel of the year).

Trained as an historian, Sam Hawken leans on his scholastic background to create books with solid connections to the real world, while also telling human stories in the crime-fiction genre. Though he no longer counts Texas as his home, he has not left the American Southwest behind. His third traditionally published novel, LA FRONTERA, appeared in December 2013, with a fourth, MISSING, coming in 2014. A self-published release from 2013, JUÁREZ DANCE, mines this same fruitful territory.

For a bit of fun and thrills, Hawken has written the Camaro Espinoza series of novellas and released them exclusively to the Kindle.

When not writing, Hawken is a husband and the father of a son with autism. He is active in autism- and special needs-related causes, including Autism Speaks and the Special Olympics. He especially encourages donations to the Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore, Maryland.


"Sam Hawken has been slowly but surely making his presence known in the crime fiction community over the past few years[.] If you're not reading Hawken's work yet, get on it now." ~~ Elizabeth A. White

Product Description


"'A heartfelt book' (Guardian) 'A tense, gripping read and a plea for justice' (Sunday Times) 'His debut novel is a hard-boiled plunge into damaged lives that grippingly evokes the dust, decay and pervading sense of death in Juarez, leaving you with a lingering sense of sweaty unease' (Metro)"

Book Description

A visceral crime novel based on the true story of mass murder in a Mexican border town

Shortlisted for the Crime Writers' Association New Blood Dagger Award.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dark and dangerous 16 May 2012
Brilliant read, the story is set in the Mexican border city of Ciudad Juarez. The author paints a harsh and stark portrayal of an American boxer escaping his demons in Juarez, and how his life which appears to be on the up suddenly spirals chaotically out of control. The setting is bleak and it pulls you into the squalor and depravity of the dark underbelly of the rich and privileged who can turn the hand of the local police.
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28 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bleak and Brilliant 18 Mar 2011
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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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Debut! 23 July 2012
This is a remarkable debut novel that heralds an exciting new talent to hit the crime writing scene. For just over 300 pages of gripping storytelling it quite simply doesn't put a foot wrong.

The two leads; Kelly the boxer and Sevilla, the emotionally battered old cop are hugely sympathetic and draw the reader into the tale effortlessly. They each have their own personal tragedy they wear like a cloak, but Hawken being the talented storyteller he is doesn't give us all of the relevant information up front. Instead he allows this to inform the characters actions and motivations while doling out portions of the truth like a miser with his coin.

The real-life victims of the crimes that pervade this city are in the background, their tragedy highlighted by the simple but effective ploy of showing the effect that their deaths have had on the people left behind. Time and again we see them draped in black, crushed under the weight of their grief: a much more effective device than a passage of torture.

This really is quality writing and a top drawer novel.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Eyeopening account of a life in Mexico 29 Jan 2012
Sam Hawken has written a harrowing account of life on the wrong side of the US / Mexican border. The story of Kelly Courter a flawed American boxer, alcoholic and heroin addict and Raefel Sevilla a policeman and father of a missing daughter. Set in Ciudad Juaewz, home to officially 500 missing women (though locals claim as many as 5,000) the story exposes the dark consequences of of a poor society living cheek by jowl with America. Hawken describes a city of working poor, struggling in factories producing consumer goods for American firms and sex and drugs industry serving tourists from across the border. A chilling account of revenge.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
By J. H. Bretts VINE VOICE
Format:Kindle Edition
This is the first novel from Texan historian Sam Hawken but I'm sure we're going to hear a lot more from him. The Dead Women of Juarez is a formidable, well crafted and atmospheric crime novel, featuring a young American boxer and an ageing Mexican policeman , both tragically caught up in the disappearance of women from the beautifully evoked border town. There is a quite a lot of violence but it is never gratuitous, and as the author makes clear in his afterword, the story is very much based on real events.Highly recommended for fans of writers like Cormac McCarthy and George Pelecanos.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Excellent Read 4 Sep 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
When I first bought this book I wasn't sure whether I would like it. I did! It is a very interesting and well written book. Highly recommended.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Startling; a good read. 2 Sep 2012
By Sue
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
What was great about his book was that you really got to know the characters, and you saw the ordinariness and the struggle of their lives, so you cared what happened to them. It opened my eyes to the plight of the disappeared in Mexico without being preachy.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dark, intriguing and thought-provoking. 14 Mar 2012
Briefly, The Dead Women of Juarez is about a washed-up American boxer who is scraping a living in the Mexican border town of Juarez. His Mexican girlfriend works for an organisation that seeks justice for Juarez's many female kidnappings and homicides, and it's through this angle that the book gets darker and more intriguing. Once the washed-up boxer falls foul of the criminals and corrupt police of Juarez after his girlfriend is raped and murdered, it falls to an equally washed-up cop to find out what is going on.

This book is well written and thought-provoking, dark but engaging at the same time, which is no mean feat. The chapters are short and choppy, lending themselves perfectly to the cinematic pace and feel of the novel. I read a review that suggested it would make a really good basis for a film, and would have to agree. It's dirty and washed out, just like the Mexican town in which it is set. The novel has just the right amount of moral observation to make it thought-provoking without being too dictatorial, but overall it ticks all the right boxes for me in terms of pace and style. Bits of it reminded me of Cormac McCarthy's writing, probably the border-land setting and economical prose. I also liked the fact that not all the loose ends are tied up, it had the right amount of conclusion without feeling the need to make it `happyily ever after' - as such an ending would simply feel wrong.

I highly recommend this book.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars A strong plea for justice
This is a very worthy book depicting the efforts of two men who search for the truth behind the disappearance of hundreds (if not thousands) of women in Juarez, which has been... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Crimefan72
5.0 out of 5 stars xmas gift
I bought this book for my son for xmas and it was an easy and pleasant way to get your xmas presents
Published 6 months ago by karen simpson
5.0 out of 5 stars The Dead Women of Juárez
What can I say that has not already been said by other reviewers? Well this book is different to your run of the mill crime thrillers and it opens your eyes as to what is happening... Read more
Published 9 months ago by Frankig56
4.0 out of 5 stars Written with passion
I enjoyed this novel it was written with a passion which I discovered, when I got past the end of the book, was because there was some truth in the background and the author was... Read more
Published 10 months ago by Simon Nixon
2.0 out of 5 stars Run of the mill
Fairly run of the mill story, reasonably well written. Don't know what the fuss is about. I think some people get carried away with themselves when they write reviews. Read more
Published 11 months ago by raymond campbell
4.0 out of 5 stars Borderland Noir
Really enjoyed this book as it brought to my attention the plight of Mexican families whose female relatives go missing, presumed murdered, but whose bodies are never found and... Read more
Published 11 months ago by Rosscumming05
2.0 out of 5 stars Not at all what I expected
I found this book to be poorly written with a simplistic and predictable plot. The chapters are short, feel rushed and the character development is basic. Read more
Published 15 months ago by sundowner
5.0 out of 5 stars Makes your heart weep
Hawken's novel is gritty, visceral and all too real. Unlike some reviews have mentioned, I don't think The Dead Women of Juarez slowed down at all in the last half. Read more
Published 15 months ago by LondonS
4.0 out of 5 stars A Present
Gave this book as a gift to a friend who is studying Spanish and likes a bit of gore! He thoroughly enjoyed it and the Spanish references. Read more
Published 15 months ago by Verity
4.0 out of 5 stars Good read
Enjoyed it twists in story to keep interest. Sound realistic for Mexico ! Easy to read nice short chapters which I like.
Published 17 months ago by Ruth White
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