Unidentified Woman—a literary mystery novel about rape, revenge, and redemption—follows a young Mexican girl, Maria Sanchez, who is kidnapped on her way to school one morning. She is enslaved and repeatedly, brutally raped by paying costumers, mostly Americans. But she survives and grows up to become an independent young woman living in Los Angeles. She tracks down all those men who wronged her, exerting a deadly, unusual punishment.
On her footsteps, following the police failure to capture her, is Gideon Gold: a reluctant, amateur private investigator, and a former commander of an elite Israeli paratroops unit and a Mossad secret agent. His frantic pursuit of her takes unexpected twists and turns, culminating in a dramatic, compelling game of cat-and-mouse that will change both of their lives forever.
About the Author: Hillel F. Damron was born in Israel to parents who survived the Holocaust. He was an officer at an elite paratroops unit and was wounded in battle. He studied films at the London Film School and became a film director of TV documentaries, a feature film, and numerous video shorts. He is the award-winning author of a Sci-fi novel, short stories and film reviews. His novel Very Narrow Bridge, a first in the series of Gideon Gold’s Investigation, was published last year.
This year in February he was awarded Moment Magazine’s prize for winning its memoir contest with his entry: The Sweet Life. And this summer, August 15th, his second novel in the series of Gideon Gold’s Investigation will be published throughout the E-reader Universe.
Be the first to read an excerpt, and have an initial clue on the road to solving the mystery: who is she, the Unidentified Woman, and what’s her story? Here how it begins:
Capirato, Mexico. October 12, 1976
“If life is a garden,
Women are the flowers.
Men are the gardeners,
Who pick up the prettiest ones.”
I sing this song while jumping rope with Adela, my best friend, before going off to school. I’m only twelve, but Mami keeps telling me I should grow up and stop jumping rope. Do things girls my age are supposed to be doing, like help her in the kitchen and learn how to sew. I hate it when she says that. I keep holding tight to the rope that connects me to my childhood, afraid of losing it, afraid of growing up. It’s as if somehow, don’t know how, I know what lies ahead.
The dirt road to school, that’s what lies ahead, where Adela and I run hand in hand. We skip between the small stones, still singing that silly song a boy at school taught us yesterday, about the flowers and the gardeners. And laughing about it, too, questioning who is the prettiest one: her or me? And this boy, Angelo his name, is he in love with me or with her?
We come off the bend to the only half paved road in our poor little village, happy to bounce on solid ground. Just then a black car suddenly stops near us making noise and raising dust. Never before in my life have I seen such a beautiful, shiny car. I can see myself reflected in it, like in a twisted mirror.
But only for a second. Because the back window rolls down immediately and a man pokes out his head, asking me for my name. “Maria,” I say. (I hate my name, it’s so… so ordinario.) He asks me to come over and show him the way to our school. I don’t know why I didn’t run away at that moment. Maybe it’s because Mami always told me to obey men. Especially older men.
He opens the door when I get closer and grabs me by the hand and pulls me inside. He is strong and he places me in the back between his legs, pushing my head down. I left my schoolbag on the dirt road behind. But why, I will need it soon? No matter, Adela will bring it to school. Of course she would. That’s where we are going, isn’t it? It’s only a game.
The car takes off screaming. I want to scream, too, but I can’t. His stinky hand is on my mouth. It hurts so much so I bite it. He curses bad words and hits me on the back of my head. Now I really scream. He is strangling me. I can’t breathe. His firm thighs clap my hips. I can’t move. I can’t shout. I close my eyes.
When I close my eyes, I’m afraid the world that was promised me—going to school with Adela, meeting Angelo and our other friends there, studying history which I like the most, our daytrip next week to the Mayan ruins, graduation, going to trade school, falling in love, marrying and having children—may be gone and lost forever. And together with the cloud of dust I imagine the speeding car is raising behind as it leaves our village, an evil cloud is falling over me. Covering me with eternal darkness and sadness.
Here’s Another excerpt:
I feel lucky today, Adela. I breathe the crisp spring air. I listen to the singing of the birds. I smell wild flowers. I shake my hair loose and let it fly. The promise of quiet is suddenly all around me, and I can hear myself thinking for the first time since I was kidnapped. Maybe there is a future for me after all, like Big Mamá said.
I’m working alone, the way Mario told me to. Not with the other workers I saw on the way before we entered this narrow valley. The work is easy, much better than the hard work at the factory. I water the coca plants with a hose. That’s all I do. It’s a young field and the shrubs are about my size, no more than one meter and twenty tall. They don’t seem thirsty to me, the plants, but still, I fill this shallow circle that surrounds them with water. I just look at the water streaming so nicely. Then when it’s full, I move the hose to the next plant. I feel a gentle breeze coming down from the hills. I hear only birds and the whisper of the wind. I see the water swirling and I see the butterflies fly around me. My wish at this moment is to be a butterfly.
But suddenly—don’t know how, don’t know why—I see a shadow in the water circling the plant. I hear footsteps, too. And when I raise my head to look, the man is too close for me to run away. He is tall and old and Gringo. He is wearing boots and a cowboy hat. Like in a movie we saw together once, Adela, in our village. Remember?
I let the hose drop down from my hand and take a step back. That’s when he takes his hat off and throws it on the ground. His head is bald like a melon, and so ugly. He looks me up and down. He smiles. Evil smile.
“You’re mine, Little Maria,” he says in Spanish with an American accent.
How does he know my name? I hate that name. One day I’m going to change it. I turn around and begin to run. He chases after me and grabs me from behind. I scream but nobody hears me. Where is Mario? Where is Big Mamá? Where are the other workers I saw when we drove in here? Where is everybody?
Watch for an Interview with the Author and My Review on the 14th and 15th! Find Hillel Damron at these sites!