11 September 2011

Review: BUNKER, Andrea Maria Schenkel

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 260 KB
  • Print Length: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Quercus (July 7, 2011)
    Translated from German by Andrea Bell,
    original novel published in German in 2009
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B005CNS4NK
  • Source: I bought it
  • ISBN 978-1-84916-112-1

Product Description (Amazon)

It had been a normal day at work. Monika was locking up, ready to head home, when the man arrived. She didn't even see his fist until it was far too late.
Bundled into a car, tied up and taken in darkness to an old mill in the thick of a forest, she has been flung into a bunker. It is only now, as time passes and she sees her attacker in the light, that she notices the startling resemblance to someone from her very dark and buried past, someone she never wanted to see again.
Was this a robbery gone wrong? Is he Hans returned for revenge? Is she even the victim at all?
With every page of this spine-tingling novel, Andrea Maria Schenkel ratchets up the tension and draws the reader deeper into the dark, dangerous and terrifying bunker of the guilty human psyche.

My take

This is the first novel I have read by Schenkel, although I gather from other reviews that her previous, THE MURDER FARM, is worth hunting down. In another reference to Schenkel's style a reviewer used the term "dislocated narrative" and I think that is a good description of how BUNKER is constructed.

The reader has to work hard at piecing the narrative jigsaw together as it is delivered from two points of view: the victim, Monika, and her kidnapper. Towards the latter part of the book, the two narratives are interspersed with excerpts from a paramedic report. This is further complicated by these short one page reports appearing to be out of order.

There is little except context to assist the reader in working out who the narrator is. That ceases to be a problem, but when you have finished reading, there are so many unanswered questions. I never did quite work out why Monika was kidnapped. The kidnapper whom Monika thinks is Hans, but who calls himself Dimitri, doesn't seem very clear himself about his motives. Certainly the kidnapping goes terribly wrong. Both main narratives contain unanswered questions and the information from which the reader can draw answers is scattered. I never did reconcile the opening chapter with the closing one.

I don't think this is the sort of book an occasional crime fiction reader will appreciate, but I can imagine that a discussion group would have great fun in talking about the timeline, motives, and what actually happened.

My rating: 4.0

Reviews to check:
About the Author
Andrea Maria Schenkel lives with her family near Regensburg in Bavaria. Her first two novels, The Murder Farm and Ice Cold, both also published by Quercus in the UK, won first place in the German Crime Prize in consecutive years - making Schenkel the first author to achieve this. The Murder Farm has gone on to become a phenomenal bestseller, as has Ice Cold.

1 comment:

Maxine said...

Yes, this book is quite a departure from her previous two, The Murder Farm and Ice Cold, both of which covered historical (war-related) crimes in a slice-of-live/"witness statement" way. This one is more of a thriller where as you point out, we are never sure what is "real". I quite liked it but I think I don't "get" her as much as many others do (the first two books won prestigious awards in Germany. Not sure about this one).


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