Author; Ilan Herman
ISBN: 978-1-934081-23-5

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I have to say, I was completely unsure of what to expect of a book with such a macabre title.  Would this be filled with the 'blood and guts' motif of serial killers?  Or would I be looking at the haunted ghosts of the past who swarm small town America and scare the “bejesus out of unsuspecting humans?  I have to say...I was so unbelievably, pleasantly surprised that what I held in my hand was a solid book full of mystery, sacrifice, longing, love - a full range of human emotions that sometimes seemed to be written by the hands of a poet.
 
We are brought into this story by Adam, a man who has spent the latter years of his life as the local gravedigger.  He's not scary - just a hardworking man who has given up the job of landscaper for the living to spend his time taking care of the dearly departed.  He makes sure the roses bloom and the grass is cut so neatly, that it looks like a dark green velvet sheen, where mourners and family members can come and sit with the souls long gone.  Adam has been a part of this world for so long, that there are literally only three grave sites left in the large field to be dug; only three more souls can be put to rest before the cemetery is full.  He has a friend named Noah, who takes care of the business end of things.  He and Noah spend a lot of time having dinners and talking about the world as it is now as opposed to the one that has passed.  Adam's wife, Naomi, passed away a while ago - leading to Adam's reclusive life.  His walls are filled with strange looking masks - like that of ancient medicine women - that he collected on his travels.
 
There is a story line with a young girl from town who has the flu.  She's a friend of Noah's and Adam's, and she comes and sits and talks with them every once in a while.  One day, Adam hears noises, like groans coming from the well-tended fields, by the small tomb in the corner of the cemetery.  Soon, the reader is led into a life of a spirit called Sardon, who comes back to tell his story so that Adam will write it down and Sardon can be free.  Sardon is a man who certainly doesn't belong in this day and age, and his story is an adventure through time.
 
There is also a woman named Eva, who comes to the grave of her much-older husband and sits everyday for a half an hour with a metronome - watching and listening to the clicks from the machine, like listening to the time of her own life being swept away.  Is she guilty of something?  Are her trips a penance of some sort?  Or is she a woman who simply misses her husband and can't find a way to continue on her path?  
 
There are so many questions and threads that go from Adam into other people's stories, that any reader will find this an interesting case study in life as well as death.  And, I have to add, the poetry hit me from page one.  As Adam leans against an oak tree in the cemetery - a large oak, "with branches reaching skyward like arthritic fingers, a stoic defiance lingered in the oak's crooked trunk."  These are words that are told from the mouth (or through the typing fingers) of a true artist who sees and understands the world around him.  The best line?  Also, for me, came on page one.  As Adam stands next to that tree, he whispers, "We survive every second except the last one."
 
Great line...good book...I thank the author for the introspective work and time he put into this.
 
Click Here To Purchase The Gravedigger