The award-winning author of Narcoland investigates the 2014 disappearance of a group of students in Iguala, Mexico, alleging their murder at the hands of local police and a government cover-up stemming from deep corruption and collaboration between Mexican politicians and drug cartels.
Hernández, with her searing analysis of an ongoing brutality, adds another notch to a history of Mexican journalism and public indictment against the government ... Her evidence is compelling. A Massacre in Mexico is a limber display of investigative journalism. The reader, no doubt, leaves this book informed of how things work in the halls of outgoing President Enrique Peña Nieto's Mexico. Along the way, this riveting nexus of truth and lie is a sickening reading process ... The book reads like a long, immersive magazine feature, one that takes a surgical blade to a labyrinthine corruption scandal ... Structurally, Hernández circles her subjects like a hawk, or, rather, like a savvy producer; what I mean to say is that this book flows elegantly for the narrative-obsessed reader otherwise unfamiliar with the political leitmotifs of Mexican civil society. It's not an easy read, but its simplicity in prose is an achievement. It reads like a season of Serial on the page, one might say.
An average reader will find reading Hernandez’s work challenging and confusing at time[s], not because of the structure of the book, but because of the complexity of the Mexican Drug War, the sheer volume of individuals, state and non-state actors involved and the number of governmental agencies, sub-agencies and companies mired in corruption is endless ... On its own A Massacre in Mexico is brilliant, accompanied by Narcoland, it is a masterful piece of journalism which counteracts the narrative of the state.
What emerges is a terrifying picture of how all levels of government have worked to stand up a series of lies as their 'historical truth.' She provides visceral descriptions of torture to confirm a story that is reminiscent of the dirty war in the Argentinian and Chilean dictatorships of the 70s ... The government 'truth' is held together by the almost tangible fear that any witnesses feel after decades of violence ... But faced with Hernández’s minute analysis, the discrepancies between their forced accounts, the contradictions of lies, are laid out in pummelling detail ... Unhappily, this meticulously detailed approach may render parts of the book impenetrable to the average reader. Few will have the will to track which bus was which, or remember which acronym stands for which federal body ... Hernández’s achievement is to turn this fate of 43 disappeared students into the continuing story of a state out of control. Mexico is still a democracy, and the president-elect is genuinely offering a radical new agenda in dealing with the cartels.