The Queen of the Night

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She is every inch a woman – and every bit a Nazi. Edmonde, beautiful and depraved, who quotes Shakespeare, then screams “Seig Heil” and plunges into orgies of impossible desire and brutal savagery. Edmonde, who moves from bedroom to bedroom, woman to woman, from beerhall to bunker in the twilight world of the Nazi pantheon.

The Queen Of The Night parallels the moral slide of the Third Reich with the sexual and violent excesses of an amoral amorous woman. The result is a bizarrely beautiful novel – a savage satire, brilliant and macabre.

Behm, an American settled in France, wrote one of the great novels of obsessive detective fiction, The Eye of the Beholder. Its predecessor was even weirder, one woman’s Sadean journey through the horrors of wartime “engulfed by the dementia of history”.

Inspired by The Magic Flute, what follows often reads like a disco version of Wagner, ending in notable squalor in the Berlin bunker for a blasphemous version of Downfall: “Hitler and his general staff escaping from Berlin in an Amt VI gas chamber! Lunatic!” Delirious, tasteless and sublime.

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