WOMAN OF THE DEAD by Bernhard Aichner


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Bloody corpses and an intriguing protagonist combine to flesh out Aichner’s violent tale.

The first thing Blum does at the beginning of this book is kill her elderly parents by letting them slowly drown as she sunbathes on the family sailboat, turning a deaf ear to their begging. But readers, though possibly shocked by Blum’s callousness, won’t shed any tears for the couple: they were monsters. Thus, Blum earns her emancipation and, at the same time, finds happiness in the arms of Mark, the police officer who investigates their deaths. Soon Blum is running her late father’s mortuary business and has two children with Mark. But her happiness is cut short when Mark’s killed in a hit-and-run as he leaves their home. Later, Blum goes through Mark’s phone and finds a bevy of recorded conversations with a woman named Dunya, who recounts terrible tales of being held captive with two other immigrants while a group of five men, whose names she doesn't know, rapes and abuses them. Blum decides to finish what Mark started and sets off to right the wrongs those five men perpetrated. In the meantime, she takes Massimo, her husband’s partner, as a lover and forms a special bond with Reza, her loyal helper. This story won’t be everyone’s cup of tea. Blum is cold as ice while dealing with the men who imprisoned and hurt Dunya. And, since she’s an undertaker, her methods often include messy dismemberment and as much suffering as she can inflict on her victims. Blum’s not a creature of mercy. Aichner, who worked in Blum’s field at one time, shares his knowledge of body preparation—none of which is dignified or neat—with readers. Some will find it fascinating.

Gory, explicit, and crammed with dialogue that is often profane as well as curt, this tale of a woman brimming with hate and vengeance won’t be for everyone.

Pub Date: Aug. 25th, 2015
ISBN: 978-1-4767-7561-6
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Scribner
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15th, 2015


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