Brides of Blood
by Joseph Koenig
4 stars - more than a little disturbing
This book was sent to me by a friend after my attempts to locate it via the library network came up short. I'm going to donate it to the library so that other people will be able to read it.
Dark and very disturbing, Brides of Blood is a murder mystery set in Iran. I confess that I wavered about halfway through. Sure, I had trouble keeping the names of the players and political organizations straight, but more than that was the horror of the contents.
You're thinking "Hey, Mango Momma, you read lots of really icky books." You are correct. But they typically involve sociopaths operating in somewhat civilized societies. The bad guys are aberrations. The good guys are legion.
Not so here because modern Iran is an unspeakably awful place. In particular, awful for women. The fear of and need for power over women is part of the culture, part of the government. Women have nothing and there is no amount of care a woman can take to protect her from an arbitrary punishment for slights (real or fabricated). Horrible punishments. Torture, imprisonment, violent, painful death.
Darius Bakhtiar is a western-trained chief of homicide trying to unravel the murder of a young woman. He has few friends, fewer allies. He quickly becomes tangled in a plot which includes powerful officials. For his efforts, he is repeatedly beat up and finally imprisoned and subjected to horrific torture. It is almost too much to read, much less imagine.
I do recommend the novel, but prepare yourself for it. The mystery is well conceived and plausible.
I was brought to mind of a movie that I watched a few years back that has continued to haunt me. The Stoning of Soraya M. Throughout the movie I kept thinking "Well, that isn't really going to happen" and then "but it won't be so terrible." Well, it did happen, it does happen, and it is terrible beyond imagining.