THE DARK MEADOW by Andrea Maria Schenkel
Translated by Anthea Bell
Andrea Maria Schenkel’s The Murder Farm is about as good a crime debut as I’ve ever read. Two pretty strong novellas followed and then Schenkel disappeared. Or so I thought. Somehow I missed The Dark Meadow. What a delight, then, not only to discover it this week but to find it’s every bit as great as her debut.
A vagrant passes out in a tavern in a small German village. Woken by the barkeep, he claims to know the truth about a local murder that happened just after the war. Thus unfurls the tragic story of a young, unmarried woman and her infant son, brutally murdered - it was believed - by her father, Johann. Arrested at the scene, Johann is confused. He is old, demented, and bloodied. He seemingly confesses.
With her characteristic tapestry of viewpoints and narrative forms, Schenkel tells a tragic story of post-War shame, guilt, villainy and courage. What she packs into this slender book could fill five times the number of pages and yet it never seems overstuffed. Much like The Murder Farm, The Dark Meadow is a crime novel distilled to perfection.
The Dark Meadow by Andrea Maria Schenkel (Tr. Anthea Bell)