Book Review: Woman of the Dead (Bernhard Aichner)


Brunhilde Blum (known only as Blum, she hates her first name) is living a blissful life; married to a doting husband, a police officer, and a mother to two children. She has a successful business (after taking over the family trade as an undertaker).   When her life is shattered by the sudden loss of her husband, Blum goes deeper and deeper into despair and reignites parts of her past to help her seek revenge. How far would you go to avenge the one you love?

Woman of the Dead is a crime thriller, and the first novel translated into English, by Austrian writer Bernhard Aichner. According to the synopsis, this novel is the first in a trilogy about the lengths that one will go to seek vengeance and struggle between good and evil that exist in all of us. This book is a dark and intense. I devoured it in a single afternoon.

Blum and her husband are going through their typical morning routine, when, on his way to work, he is struck by a car outside of their home and dies instantly. The driver escapes leaving Blum’s world shattered. Dealing with her grief, she comes across voice messages on her husband’s phone from his last police case. They contain a woman who describes her torture and rape over a five-year period by a group of five masked men: described as the photographer, the clown, the cook, the priest, and the huntsman. Blum becomes obsessed with this case and convinced that they are linked to her husband’s death.   She takes on the task of hunting down these men and making them pay for what they have done, not only to that woman but also to her husband.

This one opens with a bang and the action does not stop.   Aichner is able to write a story that is so deliciously twisted and completely original.     This novel is cold and clinical; I loved this.   Aichner writes in a very “matter of fact” nature and Blum’s narration is direct and to the point.  From the first moment her character is introduced, the reader realizes how complex this character is. After her husband’s death, her grief turns to calculated autopilot as she begins to seek revenge. This narration style made the story that much creepier! Soccer mom meets vigilante psychopath. Loved it.  Blum is the ultimate anti-hero.

This novel will not be for everyone; it is very graphic. But, if you are a crime fiction aficionado and want to read something completely original, you must add this one to your TBR list!

I will be waiting anxiously for the next in the trilogy to be translated into English.   Otherwise, I may just have to learn German…




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