Fear Is Just a Word: A Missing Daughter, a Violent Cartel, and a Mother’s Quest for Vengeance

Books on Tape. Sept. 2023. 11:05 hrs. ISBN 9780593790472. $95. CRIME
New York Times international investigative correspondent Ahmed debuts with a harrowing look at the violence wrought by the ruthless Los Zetas drug cartel. Ahmed tells the story of Miriam Rodríguez, whose 20-year-old daughter Karen was abducted from the small town of San Fernando in Tamaulipas, Mexico, in 2012. When it became clear that Karen had been killed, Rodríguez stopped at nothing in her fight to track down the murderers. Narrator Sheldon Romero grimly conveys the solemn tone of the story, launching with a Latin proverb and an interlude in Spanish, gravely stating that the disappeared leave little for others to sweep up. Romero communicates the spellbinding trepidation underlying Ahmed’s narrative, which describes life under the reign of the cartel, which took command of the city in 2010. Ahmed traces the history of cartel wars in Mexico, describing the escalation of killings and kidnappings and the entrenched corruption within local law enforcement. At the same time, he brings a deeply human note to the story as he details Rodríguez’s vigilante-level quest for justice.
VERDICT A heart-wrenching depiction of violence and a mother’s love. Recommended for listeners who appreciated Cristina Rivera Garza’s Liliana’s Invincible Summer.
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