The Murder Farm, Paperback
3.5 out of 5 (4 ratings)


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, Marianne.

Also murdered was the Danners' new maidservant, Marie, who was regarded as slightly simple.

Despite the brutal nature of the killings and the small village where it has taken place, the police have no leads.

Officially the crime is unsolved. And then a former resident returns home...The Murder Farm is an unconventional detective story.

The author interweaves testament from the villagers, an oblique view of the murderer, occasional third-person narrative pieces and passages of pious devotion.

The narrator leaves the village unaware of the truth, only the reader is able to reach the shattering conclusion.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Quercus Publishing
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Crime & mystery
  • ISBN: 9781847247650



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Showing 1 - 4 of 4 reviews.

Review by

As the Times reviewer said "Remarmable, sparse, chilling". The mix of personal reports and interviews of witnesses drawing you relentlessly to the crime and the muderer is compelling. Very good atmoshpere.

Review by

For me Andrea Maria Schenkel's The Murder Farm is a very unique crime fiction novel. The blurbs make comparisons to Truman Capote's In cold blood. Having not read Capote's work I won't comment anymore on that. Set in a rural area of Post World War II Germany--the action of the novel progresses through the eyes of the killer and through the eyes of a false lead--a criminal and black marketeer. It is also helped along by the police testimony of neighbors and those acquainted with the victims--the Danner family. It is also a tale of incest and abuse--of greed and malice--of love gone wrong which leads to the killing of 6 people--an entire Danner family of 5 plus a maid who has only been hired on the very same day the murderer strikes. The written testimonies of the various and sundry witnesses (which include the killer) is the only area of the investigation which Schenkel provides. The book presumes for the reader that the police are left without a trail or a motive. The discovery of the killer is presented as an epiphany in the final pages. A logic and a motive is there. The false lead serves to obscure and protect the motive. It is likewise obscured by the prejudices of the locals who cannot believe that one of their own could so brutally slay an entire family--even one as disliked as the Danner's.The book reads very quickly. It is written mostly in short chapters and more or less chronologically follows the events as they happen--Schenkel rather artfully revealing details large and small as she goes along bringing us closer and closer to its jarring conclusion. For a crime novel--I found it a fun book to read despite its grisliness. She has excellent technical skills and is particularly adept at exploring the psychologies of those involved in it whether criminals, victims or witnesses in fairly terse descriptions. Anyway I thought it was excellent and I'm hoping that more of her work becomes available in the near future.

Review by

I believe I got caught up in the hype on this one. Not to mention the cover art. Good cover art can really sway me. I'll buy a book I would generally have not interest in just because it has rivetting cover art.This is basically the dosier of a murder in a rural, German town. I really enjoyed feeling as if I was the investigator who was reviewing all the interviews trying to tie it all together. Trouble is, it was too easy. And the additional narrative that tied all the interviews together was not nearly as creepy as I had expected. Overall, this was a bit of a letdown, but so short a read, it was still worth it.

Review by

The Murder Farm begins with a few introductory words from an unnamed narrator: "I spent the first summer after the end of the war with distant relations in the country. During those weeks, that village seemed to me an island of peace. One of the last places to have survived intact after the great storm that we had just weathered. Years later, when life had gone back to normal and that summer was only a happy memory, I read about the same village in the paper. My village had become the home of 'the murder farm' and I couldn't get the story out of my mind."And the narrator is correct: you won't get the story out of your mind any time soon. The Murder Farm is one of those novels that once you begin reading you shouldn't plan to do anything else until it's over. It's not your average whodunit, so if that's what you're looking for, pass. This is more of a novel of psychological fiction rather than a true-blue mystery novel. The book is set in the 1950s, after the end of World War II in Germany and the American occupation. The central focus of the novel is the Danner family, who live on their isolated farm in the woods.When they are not seen for a few days, a few of the villagers go to the farm to check things out and find the entire family dead -- someone has taken a pickaxe and killed the entire family -- Mr. and Mrs. Danner, their daughter Barbara, her two small children, and a young maid who has just begun to work at the farm. Throughout this dark and gloomy book, the unnamed narrator mentioned above gathers the stories of the people who live and work in the village, and through their narratives it becomes quite apparent that the family was not popular and not very well-liked. But there are some things that not even the narrator is privy to -- interspersed with the testimonies of the villagers are other third-party narratives which leave you to wonder a) how much you're reading is simply gossip and how much is the truth, and b) who might have wanted this entire family dead.It is truly difficult to believe that this is Schenckel's first book. The bleak tone of the novel is set at the beginning and although the prose is sparse, it only accentuates the air of gloom that follows through the entire novel. The Murder Farm offers a psychological portrait of a family living in isolation as well as a brief glimpse at how the war affected the people in the village. But what it offers most is a crime which is at once both realistic and believable, making it all the more creepy the further you go into the story.Very atmospheric and bleak, The Murder Farm is a very good read, one I would recommend without hesitation to any reader of crime fiction. It will keep you turning pages until the very end.

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