Tuesday, May 7, 2013
Review of The Murder Farm by Andrea Maria Schenkel (2006, English translation 2008, Quercus)
The intrigue of The Murder Farm is created through the whodunit storyline and its telling. Taking a relatively novel approach, Schenkel tells the story through the voices of a number of people connected to the farm - the classmate of one of the children, the sister and former employer of the maid, local farmers, the shopkeeper, the local priest, and so on. Each has a distinct voice, with the text being a transcript of their account given to the faceless narrator. In tandem is the account in a distant third voice, including the incantation of prayers. The technique works well, and each voice is well crafted, the translator Anthea Bell doing a good job of translation. The story itself, however, is quite short and linear. Each person only speaks once and, as a result, the tale seemed a little underdeveloped, with little in the way of suspense. At no point is there a sense of what the narrator thinks happened and how this aligns or diverges from the third person account of what actually occurred. Overall, a story more noted for its telling and prose, than the tale itself.