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The Murder Farm

The Murder Farm, June 2014
by Andrea Maria Schenkel

Quercus
208 pages
ISBN: 1623651670
EAN: 9781623651671
Kindle: B00LSX4856
Hardcover / e-Book
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"Chilling, Sinister, and Unsettling...The Murder Farm Will Haunt You Long After You've Finished"

Fresh Fiction Review

The Murder Farm
Andrea Maria Schenkel

Reviewed by Jennifer Barnhart
Posted May 22, 2014

Mystery | Literature and Fiction Literary | Suspense

THE MURDER FARM by Andrea Maria Schenkel is a chilling look at how a brutal murder exposes the flaws of the residents in a small village.

The Danner family isn't liked. They're odd, stand-offish, and unpleasant. There are rumors that Barbara Danner's children are her father's. Everyone has an opinion, and when the entire Danner family is found brutally murdered, everyone is willing to share it with whoever comes asking.

THE MURDER FARM defies genre-labeling. Stark and chilling, the story is cobbled together from first-person accounts, as the townspeople share their part in this little mystery with a nameless narrator, and a third-person narrative from the perspective of the murdered family and the murderer. THE MURDER FARM creates a foreboding atmosphere as the events unfold through the recollections of the townspeople. These interview-type narratives show glimpses of the righteous relief of the townspeople. The Danner's are constantly depicted as other. They weren't really members of this community. They existed on the outskirts, both in physical location as well as emotional closeness. Their deaths are rationalized and tucked away into a neat, tidy, explainable event that happened to people outside the village identity, making the village safe again but also protecting and excusing the village's role in these events.

While I wasn't surprised by the revelation of the murderer, I am conflicted about the motivations and explanation for the crime. I don't want to give away the plot, but the reveal is thought-provoking. Author Andrea Maria Schenkel leaves just enough room for the reader to doubt and question the killer's confession. Is the killer telling the truth about what happened, or is there a darker motivation that is unspeakable? I personally have my doubts about the killer's confession.

At 168 pages, THE MURDER FARM isn't a short-story, but neither can I call it a novella. It is a novel of great scope and depth packed into a sparse but effective 168 pages. Chilling, stark, and harsh, THE MURDER FARM is unsettling in how it depicts the brutal murders of an entire family but also in how a community tries desperately to shift blame and find answers for this tragic crime. Questions with no answers will haunt you long after you finish this novel. Exceptional, painfully chilling, and sinister, THE MURDER FARM will disturb your view of the world and make you question your actions and motivations.

Learn more about The Murder Farm

SUMMARY

The Times Literary Supplement said of The Murder Farm, “With only a limited number of ways in which violent death can be investigated, crime writers have to use considerable ingenuity to bring anything fresh to the genre. Andrea Maria Schenkel has done it in her first novel.”

The first author to achieve a consecutive win of the German Crime Prize, Schenkel has won first place for both The Murder Farm and Ice Cold.

The Murder Farm begins with a shock: a whole family has been murdered with a pickaxe. They were old Danner the farmer, an overbearing patriarch; his put-upon devoutly religious wife; and their daughter Barbara Spangler, whose husband Vincenz left her after fathering her daughter little Marianne. She also had a son, two-year-old Josef, the result of her affair with local farmer Georg Hauer after his wife’s death from cancer. Hauer himself claimed paternity. Also murdered was the Danners’ maidservant, Marie.

An unconventional detective story, The Murder Farm is an exciting blend of eyewitness account, third-person narrative, pious diatribes, and incomplete case file that will keep readers guessing. When we leave the narrator, not even he knows the truth, and only the reader is able to reach the shattering conclusion.


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