Monday, 27 August 2018

Audiobook Review: TOTENFRAU (WOMAN OF THE DEAD) by Bernhard Aichner

Author: Bernhard Aichner
Read: August 2018
Published: 2015

Book Description:

How far would you go to avenge the one you love?

Blum has a secret buried deep in her past.

She thought she'd left the past behind.

But then Mark, the man she loves, dies.

His death looks like a hit-and-run. It isn't a hit-and-run. Mark has been killed by the men he was investigating.

And then, suddenly, Blum rediscovers what she's capable of...

My musings:

Let me just start this review with a disclaimer – even if I had not liked this book, I would never be game to say so, after reading about the many different ways the author has come up with to dispose of his troublesome characters. I would DEFINTELY not be stupid enough to upset this guy! Lucky for me that I love my thrillers dark and disturbed and really enjoyed it, though it should come with a heavy trigger warning: this is one twisted tale. I’m not sure if I should admit that I got a certain satisfaction from the vigilante-style revenge the main character wreaks on all the “bad guys” in this story (but yes, secretly I did), some of which still haunts me in my nightmares. Listening to the audio version whilst driving home from work on a dark, lonely country road may not have been the best idea.

Okay, let’s gather my thoughts and bring this into some sort of coherent format. Woman of the Dead features one of the most kick-ass female heroines I have ever encountered in a thriller, bestowed with the awkward name of Brunhilde by her cruel adoptive parents (don’t worry, they will pay for that one in due course). Hating her name (and who can blame her), she goes by “Blum”, a much more palatable and gentle moniker. Be warned though that this woman is no wallflower, but someone who will fight for what she believes is right and not shy away from dishing out her own kind of justice. After a sad and lonely childhood, where she is forced to work in her parents’ mortuary from a young age, she has finally broken free from her past and is happily married to policeman Mark, with two adorable small daughters. However, her happiness is cruelly destroyed when Mark is mowed down by a hit-and-run driver and instantly killed a mere few metres from their home. Devastated, Blum finally resigns herself to sorting out Mark’s belongings, in the process coming across some recordings on his phone that hint at something darker behind his death than just an accident. What follows is a woman’s search for truth and revenge as Blum blazes across the country like an avenging angel, a comet of destruction bearing down on the persons responsible for the evil acts Mark uncovered shortly before his death, which led to his own demise.

It is here that the book takes a very dark and sinister turn, and the more faint-of-heart may get palpitations and cold sweats as they read about Blum’s handiwork in carrying out her mission. Blum is an undertaker and has no fear of death, or corpses, which shows in the methods she employs to rid the world of the evil people that have destroyed her family. Psychopath or avenging angel? Vigilante or criminal? Whilst I found myself fearing for Blum and secretly hoping that her mission would succeed, I was also disturbed and sometimes disgusted by her actions and screwed moral compass. Was this justice? Revenge? The actions of a psychopathic killer?

Aichner delivers a story that is truly original, as it is dark and twisted. His writing style is like no other I have read before (and I read this one in its original language), and it not only serves well to ratchet up tension and suspense that drives the story along but also beautifully conveys Blum’s grief and despair at the events unfolding in her life. I was happy that he didn’t fall for any stereotypes and wrote a story so completely breaking the mould that it will stick in my mind for a long time to come. There was one moment close to the finale when I thought it was going to follow a been-there-done-that path, but luckily he veered off course at the last minute and gave us a truly satisfying finale. I am surprised that I have not come across this author before, seeing how much I love dark and twisted thrillers! Perhaps it was the concept of a serial killer as main protagonist that turned me off, but this is no ordinary character and I came to empathise with Blum in a way I didn’t think I would. From loving wife and mother to ruthless killer – and back again – this is one heroine you are not likely to forget in a hurry.

So, now for the trigger warnings: I am not afraid of corpses, can handle a fair bit of gore and have seen a few things in my time (including autopsies), but even then some scenes were pretty graphic. If these are triggers for you, then please delve in with the knowledge that some parts of this story may be upsetting. Even for the brave, reading this alone at night may not be the sort of adrenaline rush you had in mind. But for anyone looking for a dark, disturbing and very original thriller, I fully recommend giving this one a go. Apparently, it is the first part of a trilogy, and I have already got the next instalment lined up, if that tells you anything about how much I enjoyed it. Is “enjoy” the right word when it comes to a story of mayhem and murder? Well, those of you who like this particular genre as much as I do will surely know what I mean! 

All in all a disturbing but utterly addictive and engrossing tale!

No comments:

Post a Comment