ICE COLD - Andrea Maria Schenkel

Review Written By
Karen Chisholm

Whilst ICE COLD is the second book from German writer Andrea Maria Schenkel, it's the first book - THE MURDER FARM - that I have to start out mentioning.  I still remember my reaction to that book - mesmerised, enthralled, vaguely stunned.  Needless to say, trying not to set expectations for ICE COLD was a tricky undertaking.

Set in 1930's Munich, ICE COLD is the progression of a rapist serial killer.  Various viewpoints are told chapter by chapter, each voice eerily intimate, and personal, distinguished by a change in font to give the reader a visual queue, as well as a clear change in voice.  The killer moves aimlessly, passively through a life punctuated suddenly by extreme violence and depravity.  ICE COLD tells a story that is brutal, hopeless, stark, bleak and extremely discomforting.  It's dark, intense and extremely uncomfortable reading.  It's also jarringly different in that there is no discernible plot, heading for a resolution or at the least, an explanation.  This is a series of short, sharp punches to the readers sensibility, finalising in no resolution, no closure, no analysis, no neat ends and no explanations.  

There are a lot of similarities to THE MURDER FARM, in the style, the structure and the tone of ICE COLD.  But there's something much bleaker and more confrontational about ICE COLD.  Just in case it sounds like this is a book that I hated, exactly the opposite is true.  It's short, sharp, tight as hell, uncomfortable, strange, brutal, and extremely memorable.

Year of Publication

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.

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