cover image The Murder Farm

The Murder Farm

Andrea Maria Schenkel, trans. from the German by Anthea Bell. Quercus, $22.99 (176p) ISBN 978-1-62365-167-1

Stark as bare branches against a wintry sky, German author Schenkel’s first novel stitches testimony from witnesses and other townsfolk into a suspenseful, immensely sad account of an entire family’s slaughter at Tannöd, their remote farm. Based on an unsolved case in 1922 Bavaria but transported to the mid-’50s, the Danners’ horrific tale unfolds through the voices of neighbors, a classmate of doomed eight-year-old Marianne, and even an itinerant worker planning to rob Tannöd. It quickly becomes clear that this odd, damaged clan—including the ironfisted, lecherous, skinflint of a patriarch and his beaten-down wife, who turns a blind eye to his abuse of their daughter and other girls—is a time bomb waiting to detonate. Compelling as a mystery, the story assumes a larger social dimension with the damning picture it paints of the survivors, smugly convinced of their own rectitude but unwilling to lift a finger even to save a child. [em](June) [/em]