Book Review: The Murder Farm by Andrea Maria Schenkel

18465955Title: The Murder Farm

Author: Andrea Maria Schenkel

Genre: Suspense, Thriller, Murder Mystery

Age Group: Adult

Rating: 3 stars

Purchase: Amazon

Review copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

“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 is based on a true crime, a murder on a family and their madservant in a rural, quiet community, which was never solved. The reader crawls into the mind of the detectives, who talk to several witnesses and people of the community and try to figure out what happened to the family, and who murdered them.

I decided to pick up this book because it was inspired by true events, and I like reading about unsolved murders (and trying my hand at solving them), so I figured this book would be right up my alley. However, the book ended up being rather dissapointing. We jump from one character to another, and sometimes it’s hard to keep track of who is who. Everyone seems to have an opinion of what happened or who is behind it, and sometimes the witness interviews seem a bit repetitive. The most dissapointing part however was that, while inspired by true events, the author took creative liberty one step too far (as far as I’m concerned). Instead of sticking to the original time era, she moved the story several years into the future, from 1922 (the actual year of the murder) to just past World War II (the date in the book).

The resolution missed a climax – it all seemed rather straightforward. It made sense, but it wasn’t nowhere near as spectacular as I’d hoped. The characterization lacks depth, none of the characters provoke empathy. What the novel does get right is the slightly claustrophobic feel of a small, rural community where everyone knows everyone, and no secret is safe.

I would call this a mediocre lead. The story material was intriguing, but the rest could use some work.

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