After some busy weeks that included a week-long trip to Brussels, I am back with a review of a small crime novel, Tannöd, that I read a while ago and enjoyed a lot.
By “small” I mean that you can literally read it in less than one afternoon. And you will want to, because once you’ve picked it up, you won’t put it down until you know exactly what happened. So I won’t say too much about the plot here – it has a great “whodunnit” structure I don’t want to spoil. (I’m always taken by “whodunnits” because I’m not a huge fan of modern day “mysteries” that reveal the killer on page 2. Honestly, where’s the mystery in that?) But Tannöd goes well beyond Agatha Christie-type mysteries* in terms of both topic and literary ambitions. Here are just a few words to whet your appetite:
In 1950s rural Germany, a family and their maid have been brutally murdered on their family farm. Nobody survived, and nobody knows who killed them. But there are plenty of villagers with plenty of motives – they were not a popular family and had always been surrounded by some dark mystery. Bit by bit, the cruel reality comes to light.
Schenkel’s laconic prose (at least in the German version) beautifully brings out the darkness of the novel, the bigotry and the small-mindedness of a village where everyone carries their own bundle of blame. I hope the translations are good, because this book completely depends on Schenkel’s style and rhythm. Has anyone read it in another language and can comment?
Evaluation: 10/10 (great writing and suspense rolled into one, what more would you ask for in a crime novel?!)
English title: The Murder Farm
Spanish title: Tannöd, el lugar del crimen
*I already mentioned that I love a good Christie. But let’s be honest, in terms of literary ambition and style… well.