Category Archives: 2014 Global Reading Challenge

Review: The Murder Farm by Andrea Maria Schenkel


TheMurderFarmThe Murder Farm by Andrea Maria Schenkel (2014, Quercus)

Blurb: 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.


As soon as I read this book’s description, I knew I wanted to read it. However, I found the book itself to be a bit of a letdown. While the description uses words such as “exciting” and “shattering,” for me the book was a short, bare-bones, sparse narrative, somewhat fleshed out by the eyewitness accounts, that didn’t have the emotional impact I’d been expecting, given the nature of the crime.

The story is set in 1950s, in a rural German village. The setting was, for me, by far the best part of the book; I got a real sense of the isolation of the village and the impact of the war on its inhabitants. The Danners’ neighbors sense that something is amiss on the Danner farm, and upon further investigation discover that the entire family has been murdered. The narrative isn’t always linear and was a bit confusing in places, but bit by bit the reader learns about the family and its secrets, of which there are many. The focus on the characters’ flaws backfired a bit for me; rather than making each of them the possible target of the killer’s anger, it made them all unlikeable and distant—the book is so short and the characters so undeveloped that it read more like a case file.

There isn’t a lot of detail about the exact nature of the crimes—it’s not a gory book. The impact is intended to be more psychological. However, this approach didn’t really work for me because the murderer is revealed in the same matter-of-fact narrative approach as the rest of the book, without any real insights, and ultimately I felt a bit let down.


This book was provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

My rating: 3 of 5 stars.


Global Reading Challenge 2014


I’ve signed up for the Global Reading Challenge 2014: Reading 21 novels from 21 different countries on 6 continents (plus the Seventh Continent as described below).

I found out about the Global Reading Challenge through Ms. Wordopolis Reads. She had participated in the 2013 challenge and it sounded interesting, so I signed up for this year, at the expert level. The Global Reading Challenge is managed by Kerrie at Mysteries in Paradise.

From the website, what I’ve signed up for is this:

The Expert Challenge

Read three novels from each of these continents in the course of 2014:

Africa, Asia, Australasia/Oceania, Europe, North America, South America (please include Central America where it is most convenient for you)

The Seventh Continent (here you can either choose Antarctica or your own ´seventh´ setting, eg the sea, the space, a supernatural/paranormal world, history, the future – you name it).

From your own continent: try to find a country, state or author that is new to you.

Select novels from twenty-one different countries or states if possible.

I chose the expert level because I tend to focus on the same types of books, and I’m hoping this will expand my reading horizons a bit. There are two other levels–Easy and Medium–with fewer books as their goals, if anyone is interested in participating along with me. You can click on the map above to go to the sign-up page. I’m going to set up a couple of Goodreads shelves for myself to keep track of challenge books, and of course I’ll tag the reviews here of books that I selected specifically for this challenge.

I’m looking forward to this! So many books to choose from 🙂

I’m looking around for other reading challenges as well for the year. There’s a TBR pile challenge that I might sign up for. Heaven knows I’ve got plenty of books that I need to read before getting even more new ones!