Munich, in the late thirties, the first years of fascism - the last before the war: Kathie is desperate to leave her sheltered village life and sets out for the city, determined that she'll get by, one way or another. She is dark-haired, buxom and pretty, like the women who recently disappeared without a trace.
Young women are being found around Munich, abused and murdered. Josef Kalteis has been arrested, but is he really responsible for all those misdeeds? Did they execute the wrong one while the murderer is still on the loose?
Spellbound by the magnetizing story of the dead women, the reader follows young Kathie. Somewhere in between her naive search for luck and existential concerns, occasional prostitution and the desire for true love, she is in grave danger.
Andrea Maria Schenkel has again created a novel based on real events, in which the story is told through several voices and documentation, including interrogation logs, witness statements and the dark thoughts within the murderer's mind.
Set in the closing days of the Weimar Republic, German author Schenkel's second novel (after The Murder Farm) provides shattering glimpses into the mind of a sexual predator, Josef Kalteis (German for ice cold), and into the abyss lurking beneath the veneer of civilization. Pretty young Kathie wishes to leave her dreary village for Munich, where she will find a job, a lover, and a life of luxury the devil in the mirror, her mother calls these desires, which are sure to lead Kathie, like Faust's Gretchen and so many other girls, to ruin. In the very ordinariness of Kathie's sorry fate after only a week in Munich, and in the plausibility of Kalteis's self-justifications, Schenkel illustrates one of the bleakest tragedies of modern times: that so many saw what was happening, yet no one really reacted a metaphor for the Holocaust to come.