The Girl with the Crooked Nose by Ted Botha

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Synopsis

In The Girl with the Crooked Nose, Ted Botha tells the absorbing story of Frank Bender, a gifted, self-taught artist who can bring back the dead and the vanished through a unique, macabre sculpting talent. Bender has been the key to solving at least nine murders and tracking down numerous criminals. Then he is called upon to tackle the most challenging and bizarre case of his career.

Someone is killing the young women of Juarez. 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. In 2003, 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, Bender reconstructs the faces of unknown murder victims or 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 to fleshless human skulls and in part on deep intuition, an uncanny ability to discern not only a missing face but also the personality behind it.

Arriving in Mexico, Bender works in secrecy, in a culture of corruption and casual violence where the line between criminals and law enforcement is blurry, 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 Juarez investigation. With a conclusion as shocking as its story is gripping, The Girl with the Crooked Nose will haunt readers long after the last page is turned.

“…[a] crackling account of a quirky, maverick forensics artist, Frank Bender, and his largely successful efforts in facial reconstruction of murder victims…. extraordinary is Botha's writing, with his unerring depiction of Bender's painstaking work and the eventual unraveling of the brutal crimes it solves…. the tales in this book accurately capture the dark motives and complexities of senseless murder, and even the most savvy true-crime reader will not be able to resist the author's insightful storytelling."--Publishers Weekly
 

About Ted Botha

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Ted Botha is the author of Mongo: Adventures in Trash, Apartheid in My Rucksack, and the novel The Animal Lover. He has written for numerous publications, including the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, The Wall Street Journal, Condé Nast Traveler, and Outside. He lives in New York City.
 
Published January 3, 2012 by Berkley. 400 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Law & Philosophy, Political & Social Sciences. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for The Girl with the Crooked Nose

Kirkus Reviews

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The real-life saga of Frank Bender, who unexpectedly rode a commercial photography career to a parallel gig reconstructing the faces of unidentified murder victims and suspects.

May 20 2010 | Read Full Review of The Girl with the Crooked Nose

Publishers Weekly

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There is a bewildering, frustrating quality in Botha's crackling account of a quirky, maverick forensics artist, Frank Bender, and his largely successful efforts in facial reconstruction of mu

Mar 03 2008 | Read Full Review of The Girl with the Crooked Nose

Deseret News

In 2003, Mexican authorities asked him to observe decomposing bodies and help solve the most challenging case of all, the so-called feminicidios, the tragic murders of 400 young women of Juarez.

Jun 29 2008 | Read Full Review of The Girl with the Crooked Nose

Tucson Citizen

This archive contains all the stories that appeared on the Tucson Citizen's website from mid-2006 to June 1, 2009.

Jul 24 2008 | Read Full Review of The Girl with the Crooked Nose

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