Sunday, November 8, 2009

Review: ICE COLD - Andrea Maria Schenkel

Andrea Maria Schenkel's first novel, THE MURDER FARM won considerable acclaim for its clever orginality. While it's not exactly factual, it's not entirely fiction either. Rather it's the fictionalised story of a real case cleverly interwoven with witness statements taken at the time of the murder.

Schenkel's second novel ICE COLD does something very similar with the rape/murders of a number of young women in Munich just months before the outbreak of World War II.

The main focus of the book is Kathie. A young country girl who comes to Munich wanting to get away from the restrictions of her life with her family. She discovers getting a job is harder than she thought and finds herself in a somewhat sleazy world of late night bars, casual sex and occasional prostitution.

Kathie's story is the thread that ties the narrative together. In between learning Kathie's story is a series of witness statements taken from people who knew or had contact with other young woman who were murdered at the same time as Kathie is making her way in Munich.

Somehow the format that worked so well in "The Murder Farm" doesn't seem to have quite the same impact in ICE COLD. Whether it's because of the story of that the novelty of the unusual format isn't as fresh, I'm not sure.

Perhaps it was the blurb on the book jacket which asked the question, "but is he really guilty?" It is a question that maybe leads to false expections about the ending. I found myself none the wiser at the end of the book than I did when I first opened it. It could be more the fault of the publicists and powers that be who decide what goes on the blurbs, than the writer's. Whatever the reason I was left feeling quite unsatisifed by the ending of ICE COLD which wasn't present in "The Murder Farm".


Margot Kinberg said...

Thanks for this review. Isn't it interesting how an author will use a format very, very successfully in one book, and have it not work quite so well in another... I agree with you, too, that I prefer books where my questions are answered by the end of the book; I suppose I like that sense of completeness.
I have to admit I haven't read Schenkel, although I do enjoy books that weave historical incidents with fiction. It sounds as though Murder Farm is worth a try, even if Ice Cold wasn't quite as good.

Sunnie Gill said...

They are both very short books, Margot. Ice cold was 186 pages. From memory The Murder Farm was even shorter.

They only take a few hours to read so it's no great loss of time if you don't like them.

I'd be interested in what you think of The Murder Farm if you do read it.