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Paperback Details
  • 07/2021
  • 978-1-63752-867-9
  • 400 pages
  • $19.99
Verena Mahlow
Author, Translator
Island of Dead Gods

Adult; Mystery/Thriller; (Market)

Synopsis: The ISLAND OF DEAD GODS is Ibiza, Spain. PHILINE MANN (Phil), a German interpreter and single mother who has been financially ruined by her own family, travels there to sell her last belonging of value, her beloved vacation cottage. The bank has given her two weeks to clear her account.
 On the ferry to Ibiza, Phil meets a brash but helpful woman, TAMAR, who connects her to the island ́s biggest real estate agent SCHERER. When Phil arrives on the island, her longtime friend DORO, a historian who has been staying in the cottage to work on her doctoral thesis, has disappeared and left the cottage in racks and ruins. Instead of her, Phil runs into ADAM RYAN, a Texan she once loved and tried to forget ever since. Adam, an ex-US-military cop in Germany, came to Ibiza where his sister — agent Scherer ́s wife — supposedly committed suicide. Yet, Adam has reason to suspect she was murdered. Before Phil can decide what to do, her cottage goes up in flames, and a dead body is found in the ruin. Doro ́s body? When a connection between her and Adam ́s sister is discovered, the ex-lovers reluctantly collaborate to find out why the women had to die. They get valuable help from a flamboyant local cop, BARTOLO DZIRI, who has evidence pointing at agent Scherer and his dubious club of rich men, involved in an old case of rape. When the name of a prominent US-military man shows up in the context, Adam uses his connections in the Pentagon but is immediately blocked by his superiors. Tamar, who works for Scherer and is his lover, shifts into focus. She had the motif to get rid of Scherer ́s wife — and Doro? But Forensics reveal that the body in Phil ́s cottage is male. Reckless in her relief, Phil again starts an affair with Adam. Doro now lives and teaches matriarchal history in a seminar house where women from all over the world meet. Flabbergasted that the former academic and atheist leads a kind of cult in the name of the old Phoenician goddess TANIT, Phil learns that Doro uses religion as a tool to heal abused women. Her big goal is to re-balance gender-relations in the world and install equality for good. Phil has a hard time accepting the new Doro. She also doesn't understand what Doro has in common with Tamar who only believes in sex and seems unscrupulous enough to kill. Until she herself is found dead. Again, evidence of murder points at Scherer ́s club and his oedipal son. In order to reveal the truth, Phil and Adam sneak into the clubhouse and witness a ́Spring-rites ́-orgy in which girls of Doro ́s entourage participate — until they are discovered, thrown into an old Phoenician cistern and almost drown. With her last breath, Phil confides to Adam that he is the father of her son. Both survive, but their just re-found closeness is destroyed. Also shattered is Phil ́s friendship with Doro who justifies the girls participating in the orgy with a delusional archaic concept of “Sacred prostitution” that is supposed to teach men love and devotion — but, as Phil argues, has never worked in the history of mankind. Still, she accepts a gift from Doro that solves her financial problems. Ready to go home, she learns that Adam has already left the island. Without knowing who killed his sister and Tamar? Scherer ́s son confesses to Tamar ́s murder — but what about the other deaths? Phil and Dziri suspect that something has happened to Adam after he came close to the truth. After he met Doro. Phil is horrified to find out that her old friend is co-operating in a tight, deadly network of women, dedicated to eliminating abusive men. Men who can ́t be taught gender equality, neither by love and devotion nor by threats. Doro ́s — unbeatable — argument is: Had Hitler been killed before murdering the Jews, six million people could have lived. Doro ́s well intended fight against misogyny has turned her into a killer — not only of abusive men, but also witnesses like Adam and his sister. Trying to save Adam, Phil calls Dziri for help, but has to confront Doro on her own, risking her life, knowing that her former best friend has gone so far she is ready to kill her, too. In the very last minute, Bartolo appears with his cops. Instead of surrendering, Doro dramatically ends her life in the pyre she had built for Adam.
 Phil and Adam meet again at a hospital. Shaken-up but alive, they cautiously reconnect.
Amazon review by Shreya Vijay

It was amazing

It has been a pretty long time since I've been so heavily engrossed in a book that I was dying to read it as fast as I could but didn't. Because I was upset that I would never be able to read it for the first time ever again. When the author had sent me the book, she assured me that I wouldn't be disappointed and boy did she hit the nail right on the head.

After reading the book, I was blown. Both physically and metaphorically. I was in a humungous reading slump after finishing this book. I was sure that I would never find a book as brilliant as this. The unorthodox setting, the ancient rituals, the storyline, plot, character development, and the narrative; everything was so perfectly executed. It will take you a little time to get accustomed to the story and actually indulge yourself. But, once that fog has lifted, you're in for a ride.

The moment I started reading the book, I was sure that the author was a gifted writer. Every step of the way is dangerous, and a sense of foreboding lurking in the background of the story sent chills down my spine and made me keener to reach the end of the book. It was kind of a sweet torment - wanting to know what would happen but trying to delay that knowledge for as long as I could.

After reading this book, I can confidently say the Verena has quickly made her way into my list of Top 5 authors. She is a fantastic author, and her writing style is so captivating that you'll never be able to get enough of it.

Regardless of your reading tastes, choices, and preferences, I would recommend this book to every single reader out there. Why? Because if you're missing out on Verena's books, you're missing out on a whole new world.

Ps. I think this book would make for a flabbergasting thriller series. Someone needs to pick it up for the screen soon before I begin contemplating setting up my own Entertainment Company.



Chick Lit Café

Island of Dead Gods by Verena Mahlow is a rare and extraordinary novel that will appeal to readers of many genres. A fascinating blend of mystery, romance, mythology, history and the ongoing struggle between the sexes, it’s a complex, exciting and compelling novel that takes you on a whirlwind trip across Ibiza, past and present.
Philine, or Phil, as she’s known to her friends, is at the lowest point in her life. Bankrupt and disillusioned by failed relationships, she comes home to Ibiza hoping to take steps to get her life back on track. Instead, she finds her best friend missing, her beloved house burns down in mysterious circumstances, an ex-lover she hoped never to see again pops up and she becomes embroiled in a murder investigation. As the story progresses, Phil is determined to solve the mysteries and gain control of her life, but the more details she learns, the greater danger she is in.
I’ve always loved mythology, so that was the first thing that drew me to this book. When you add in all the other aspects of the story, it’s a very captivating and satisfying read. Verena Mahlow’s has a wonderful, expressive and descriptive writing style. She does an admirable job of weaving in local characters and color, making it easy for the reader to feel as though they are on location and part of the action. The characters are quirky and interesting and just when you think you have one all figured out, a mysterious twist is thrown in. The story is detailed and moves along at a good pace, keeping the reader engaged, interested and fully wrapped up in the characters and the story. The bits of history and culture about Ibiza and the surrounding area are really interesting and intriguing– enough so that I’d love to visit there myself!
It’s not easy to write across genres and author Verena Mahlow has done an exemplary job. This is a compelling read, not one that is easy to put down! If you’re looking for something intriguing, different and entertaining, grab a copy of Island of Dead Gods by Verena Mahlow. It is a 5 star, must read novel. An extraordinary mystery, suspense, thriller and romance which comes highly recommended by Chick Lit Café. Book review by DL Courtney for Chick Lit Café.

Kirkus Review

"Multilayered characters headline this gripping and profound whodunit."

In this thriller, a German woman reunites with her American ex on Ibiza, where the two investigate mysteries surrounding their loved ones.
Philine “Phil” Mann’s financial trouble leads to a heartbreaking choice. She must sell her beloved Ibiza home and property, which her aunt left her. But once she arrives on the Spanish island, she faces a series of alarming events, including the disappearance of her friend Dorothea Bartholdy, who had been staying at Phil’s house, and an unexplained fire at the dwelling. Just as surprising, her former lover Adam Ryan flies in from Dallas. He’s there for older sister Amanda’s funeral, though he immediately suspects her cyanide-poisoning suicide was actually a murder. He and Phil had an ugly split years ago—a heated argument ended with a drunk Adam striking her. Still, as their respective probes into Doro and Amanda intersect, the two begin working together. It seems as if everyone involved with these women have ties to either a local feminist group or an unsavory, scandal-ridden male organization. Questions give rise to more questions, as Phil and Adam inch dangerously close to the island’s sinister side. German-born Mahlow’s first English-language novel delivers copious plot turns. Although readers will predict some, others are genuine shocks, giving this continually deepening mystery—soon entailing multiple murders—an unrelenting edginess. The story’s two apparently opposing groups stir up serious gender issues, such as equality and male violence against women. While characters do (or have done) horrible things, the author deftly portrays a cast of flawed individuals rather than outright villains. That said, the final act is exceptionally dark, and the resolution will likely disturb readers as much as it satisfies their curiosity. Still, Mahlow’s writing paints beautiful scenery, regardless of what’s unfolding, from Phil’s run-down but cozy home to the island’s “stunning landscape” of orange groves, pine woods, and a donkey cart that slows traffic.
Multilayered characters headline this gripping and profound whodunit.


Pabulum of Lust and Lies

On Women´s Day 2022, I started to work on the sequel of "Island of Dead Gods." Working title: "Pabulum of Lust and Lies."

Paperback Details
  • 07/2021
  • 978-1-63752-867-9
  • 400 pages
  • $19.99