Format:Digital Review Copy
"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.
The Murder Farm by Andrea Maria Schenkel is a little piece of fiction (168 pages) that is based upon a true story of an unsolved rural murder that occurred in Bavaria in 1922. Creepy is not the word! I lived on a farm until I was 11 years old and have been freaked out in the past by the eerie isolation that living on 100 acres in Western Maryland can bring with it, but it compares nothing to the overwhelming isolation that Andrea Maria Schenkel describes in amazingly stark detail.
The brutality of the murders and the prayers interspersed between the different sections of third-person narrative and first-person recollections caused a shiver to run down my spine. I felt chilled even though I was reading this in a hot bath and then snuggled down under all my blankets on my bed. Goose bumps dotted my arms. The wine in my glass didn't even help to warm me up. I was cold from the inside out.
The utter desperation of the murderer made me feel sad for them. Yes, I did just say that. So upset of how the beast of evil took them over and made them into something other than human, they just couldn't reconcile it with themselves that they were capable of such horror. The ending really speaks of the murderer's desperation with what they had done.
This book is a testament to how great psychological thrillers/suspense should be written. I have read Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn and some of her other works along with Paula Hawkins' The Girl on the Train and none of them made me feel like The Murder Farm did. Anything that you read that makes you feel such emotion is definitely worth the chill and the goose bumps.
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