This tense novel is a glittering portrayal of domestic violence and the psychology of abuser and abused.
Rosa is in love with Milo, her husband’s best friend. The strain on the lovers is only intensified by Rosa’s husband’s violent behaviour towards her. So accustomed is Rosa to suffering abuse from Hans and covering it up that she appears to be ambivalent towards her plight and, much to Milo’s frustration, even defends Hans’s actions. One night Hans returns home drunk and launches a particularly brutal attack on Rosa. In an attempt to defend herself, Rosa plunges a pair of sewing scissors into his abdomen. They reel towards the stairs, and Rosa pushes Hans into the stairwell, where he breaks his neck and is killed instantly. In a state of panic, she phones Milo. Long inured to the need for secrecy, Milo formulates a plan for disposing of Hans’s body and removing all traces of the killing.
Magda Woitzuck focuses to great effect on the momentary shifts in her protagonists’ inner worlds as they undergo an ordeal that tests them to their limits. This is a crime novel with a twist: its delicious sense of suspense derives from the reader’s uncertainty as to whether Rosa’s guilt will ever be discovered.
All recommendations from Autumn 2015