Posted: August 16, 2010 in Uncategorized

I read Bunker by Andrea Maria Schenkel [translated from the German by Anthea Bell] as part of my challenge to read more books by female crime writers, and also to read possible contenders for the short list for the 2011 CWA International Dagger. Andrea Maria Schenkel’s first two novels, The Murder Farm and Ice Cold, won the German Crime Fiction prize in consecutive years so my expectations were high.

I was also partially seduced by back cover blurbs that proclaimed “AMS has shown and redefined the possibilities of the genre.”
“Crime writers have to use considerable ingenuity to bring anything fresh to the genre. AMS has done it.”

These may have referred to her first two books?

In the novel Bunker the reader is presented with first person narratives that shift back and forth from the perspectives of Monika, who has been kidnapped and taken to an old mill, and also from the kidnapper, who may be a man from her past.
Monika spends some time making half hearted attempts to escape, some time hallucinating, and a lot of time thinking about her past. The man also spends time thinking about his equally miserable past, with for some reason one passage concerning his recent activities in italicized typeface.
There is also a chapter of events which chronologically occur after the main action sliced up into smaller sections, and inserted at various points throughout the novel in bold typeface.

The reason for the bold typeface is quite beyond me as most readers would be able to work out that this action is in a different time frame without this aid. Was this an attempt to reproduce an effect that was successful in her first two books?

There is some build up of tension in the novel, but a lot of this is spoilt by most of the slender plot being revealed on the front flap.
But with such unappealing main characters the author failed to get me interested in what happened to them, and I could not wait to get to the end.
One good thing was that thankfully this bleak book is only 177 pages long, but perhaps to be entirely fair I should read one of Andrea Maria Schenkel’s earlier prize winning books, and give her a second chance.
  1. >Norman – Sorry to hear you were disappointed in this one. I must admit it doesn't sound like my cuppa, either.. Still, it's always a shame to have high expectations and then the book doesn't live up to them. Hopefully you'll enjoy her others.

  2. Maxine says:

    >I haven't read this one yet, but just to warn you, the first two are very bleak and grim indeed, quite clammily cold in fact. Not my cup of tea., though as you say they are short and highly regarded (literary prizes, etc).

  3. >Thanks Margot. I wrote the review after reading Peter Temple's brilliant Truth and after starting the always interesting Ruth Rendell's Monster in the Box so may have been a little unfair.Thanks for the warning Maxine I have Ice Cold somewhere on my TBR shelves but I may not search too closely now.

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