Bereft of spine-chilling moments

Bereft of spine-chilling moments

 Is he like some of those warped-minded Japanese men with a fetish for female underwear, she wonders. But that is also ruled out.

Andrea Maria Schenkel never resolves the mystery. Instead, she builds a profile of a psycho. His father had built the bunker as an air-raid shelter.

 At least that was the spin he put on it. A drunkard and wife-beater, he had driven her to the edge of life. He would lock her up in a mill for days on end despite her screams and pleas for mercy. At last she had hanged herself in the mill.

The son who was to turn a monster, stabs his father who had misbehaved with him after being sozzled. They save the man after an emergency operation but lock up the assailant-son.

As a boy his father had gifted him a rabbit on his birthday. “They don’t get on my nerves, they nestle against you, all soft and warm,” he remembers.

The cuddlesome days are numbered. The old man skins the poor creature alive: a moment’s twitching and then it hangs limp and still. The boy watches it all.

Schenkel does not use this to make her protagonist a killer. He just abducts a woman and dumps her in the bunker.

There are just about four or five characters here, none of them meaty enough. No tension is built up, nor are we treated to any spine-chilling stuff.

The plight of a fly takes up almost two pages. “The fat fly is crawling over the table. Goes a little way, stops, goes on, stops again, cleans itself, moves on. Its proboscis gropes over the top of the table until it finds a breadcrumb.”

It is in the same situation as the prisoner herself. Both are shut up in the same room. Is it the human condition that Schenkel is trying to portray? The fly as a metaphor?

Woven into this tale of abduction and just one killing towards the end, is an operation theatre. What snatches of surgery have to do with the bigger picture remain  a mystery. And that’s the only twist in this drab tale.

There are also instances when reality, dreams and nightmares keep slipping in and out. Is it a mind game being played out, or is there real drama in the depths of a place where the sense of time is lost in all-encircling darkness? The only chill factor is the cold of the concrete the abducted woman feels.

For those used to page-turners there is hardly anything that is engrossing. It may be a genre of crime fiction, but it misses the cut.

Give us any day,  a fat tome with twists, turns, atmospherics and characters whom we can relate to.

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