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Journal of Interdisciplinary Feminist Thought

Abstract

This paper examines the representation of femicide and impunity in contemporary detective novels set in Guatemala. The Long Night of White Chickens by Francisco Goldman (1992), Body of Truth (1992) by David Lindsey, and Grave Secrets (2002) by Kathy Reichs portray Guatemala in the 1980s and 1990s as a distressing crime scene. The novels depict Guatemala as a dark, frightening place, plagued with inefficient bureaucracy, a chaotic legal system, and a crippled sense of justice where there are dangerous repercussions for searching for and revealing the truth. U.S. journalists, CIA agents, Peace Corps volunteers, forensic scientists, and private investigators navigate the dangerous terrain between lies and truth while grappling to understand the root causes of violence and impunity. By presenting an array of North American characters who travel to Guatemala with complex and often conflicted allegiances, these works of fiction provide a lens through which to view current discussions of gendered violence and impunity. It is my contention that reading these representations of Guatemalan violence in light of our current globalized climate of fear turns a critical eye on the silence and complicity in the U.S. and abroad that allow these grisly murders to remain unpunished – in fiction and in real life.

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