Award-Winning Mystery Novel Explores the Violent Deaths of Young Women Along the US/Mexico Border

Since 1993, over 600 young, poor, brown women have been found brutally murdered in Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, across the border from El Paso, Texas, not including hundreds of others who have been reported missing and still have not been found. Desert Blood: The Juárez Murders (2005), by Alicia Gaspar de Alba, is a mystery novel about this more than 20-year crime-wave. The book has won both a Lambda Literary Foundation Award for Best Lesbian Mystery and a Latino Book Award for Best English-Language Mystery. The book has been translated into Spanish, Italian, and French.


This website provides more information about the author's research for Desert Blood, about the 2005 book tour, and the economic and socio-cultural conditions that have made the El Paso/Juárez border one of the 10 most dangerous places in the world, especially for poor, young, immigrant women from the interior of Mexico. Femicide is the murder of women for being women, or as in the case of the Juárez victims, the murder of poor young Mexican women for being poor young Mexican women, i.e., young fertile bodies trying to make a living in the maquiladora industry, the domestic and child-care industries, or the sex work industry. 




It is the summer of 1998. For five years over a hundred mangled and desecrated bodies have been found dumped on the Chihuahua desert outside of Juárez, México, just across the river from El Paso, Texas. The perpetrators of the ever-rising number of violent deaths target poor young women, terrifying inhabitants of both sides of the border. El Paso native Ivon Villa has returned to her hometown to adopt the baby of Cecilia, a pregnant maquiladora worker in Juárez. When Cecilia turns up strangled and disemboweled in the desert, Ivon is thrown into the churning chaos of abuse and murder. Even as the rapes and killings of "girls from the south" continue-their tragic stories written in desert blood-a conspiracy covers up the crimes that implicate everyone from the Maquiladora Association to the Border Patrol. When Ivon's younger sister gets kidnapped in Juárez, Ivon knows that it's up to her to find her sister, whatever it takes. Despite the sharp warnings she gets from family, friends, and nervous officials, Ivon's investigation moves her deeper and deeper into the labyrinth of silence.

From acclaimed poet and prose-writer, Alicia Gaspar de Alba, Desert Blood is a gripping thriller that ponders the effects of patriarchy, gender identity, border culture, transnationalism, and globalization on an international crisis.



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