The Girl with the Crooked Nose
Someone is killing the young women of Juárez. Since 1993, the decomposing bodies of as many as four hundred victims, known as feminicidios, have been found in the desert surrounding this gritty Mexican border town. Prodded by local political pressure and international attention, the Mexican authorities turn to the United States to help solve these horrific crimes. The man they turn to is Bender.
Through breathtakingly realistic sculptures, Frank Bender has made it his career to reconstruct the faces of unknown murder victims and of fugitives whose appearances are certain to have changed over years on the run. The busts are based in part on the painstaking application of forensic science and art to fleshless human skulls and in part on deep intuition, an uncanny ability to discern not only a missing face but the personality behind it.
Arriving in Mexico, Bender works in secrecy, in a culture of corruption and casual violence, braving anonymous threats and sinister coincidences to give eight skulls back their faces and, hopefully, their histories. Drawn to one skull in particular – ‘the Girl with the Crooked Nose’ – Bender gradually comes to suspect that perhaps he is not meant to succeed, and that the true solution to the mystery of the feminicidios is far more terrible than anyone has dared to imagine.
Ted Botha brilliantly weaves Bender’s story – the cases he has solved, the intricacies of his art, the colorful characters he encounters, and the personal cost of his strange obsession – with the chilling story of the Juárez investigation. The Girl with the Crooked Nose will haunt readers long after the last page is turned.