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 17-year crime-wave. This website provides more information about the book, the book tour, and the issue of the Juárez femicides. 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.

Cover graphic art: "Las muertas de Juárez reclaman justicia"
by Segundo Pérez


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.


Alicia Gaspar de Alba is the author of various works of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction, among them three novels, two books of poetry, a collection of short stories, and an academic book. She has also edited a volume on sexuality and popular culture studies, and most recently a collection of scholarly essays on the Juárez crimes, Making a Killing: Femicide, Free Trade, and La Frontera (University of Texas Press, 2010). A Professor of Chicana/o Studies, English, and Women's Studies at the UCLA, Gaspar de Alba is a native of the El Paso/Juárez border. She has been researching the crimes since 1998 and organized an international conference on the murders at UCLA in 2003.

To read more about Alicia and her other books go to

Send an email to Alicia.

No copying or duplicating of images or texts is permitted
without specific and signed permission.