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Andrea Maria Schenkel is back in form with her "Bunker" while Anthea Bell shoulders the translation job

With every page of this spine-tingling novel, Andrea Maria Schenkel ratchets up the tension and draw the reader deeper into the dark, dangerous and terrifying bunker of the guilty human psyche. Bunker, the third brief novel by Andrea Maria Schenkel to be translated into English, again by the sensitive pen of Anthea Bell, differs from the author's previous two novels in being set in a (possible) present, rather than being an examination of past crimes in part enabled as well as brought about by the chaos of war, and yet again it’s RightBooks.in service to bring it before. The plot of Bunker is both simple and complex. Simple, in the sense that it describes what is on the surface a straightforward crime: a kidnapping by a man of a woman who lives in the apartment opposite his (or at least, lives somewhere where he can watch her). Complex, in the sense that the story is told from different perspectives, mainly alternating between the kidnapper and the kidnapped, but also occasionally by those who come to sort out the aftermath. At first, the reader cannot identify the voices telling the narrative. It isn't clear who is powerful and who is powerless. As the basic plot becomes apparent, it also becomes obvious which narrator is which. Yet, by the end of the book, ambiguity again reigns. An added dimension is the memory and perceptions of both characters that infiltrate their reactions to their present circumstances: the kidnapper's past life with his violent father and abused mother; and the kidnappee's dark secret, the guilt of which leads her to believe that she knows the identity of her captor. Although the book is short, as well as lacking the historical aspects of the author's previous novels, I enjoyed it more than the earlier books. It is not a deeply profound novel, but it does challenge our sense of "right" and "wrong", and where our sympathies should lie. Monica’s captor is a monster, and she is totally innocent. But as the narrative intercuts between the two, the reader realizes that there is a history here. Both characters draw on their childhoods: she on the murder of her brother and the trial at which her evidence convicted the accused; her attacker on the vicious cruelty with which he and his mother were treated. Were their pasts intertwined? The exploration reaches deeper, back to the bunker in the mill cellar, built by the captor's father. He claimed to have been half-buried underground during the war, and later created an underground refuge. Only much later does his son realize that the wartime experience must have been a total fabrication; that what his father sought was a hiding-place from retribution for his own crimes. His capture of Monika is a psychological regression. Monika begins a process of psychological manipulation. She proposes a plan, which will involve them both as they entice someone else to the mill: an outsider to the strange relationship growing between the two. But that plan goes awry too, and we learn the brutal final twists of the captor's boyhood struggle against his father. The screw is further turned by occasional glimpses of an autopsy in which the pathologist is coolly recording the progress of a forensic investigation. But we have no clue as to whether the body is that of the prisoner or the captor. Essentially a two person act, with Monika the central character being snatched away and kept locked up for reasons she believes must be linked to a crime set in the time of her childhood, and her captor as the other character, this is a taut and powerful tale well told as it switches from one perspective to the other alternately with interspersed details of hospital treatment to person/s unknown as the story is told between them. It’s www.rightbooks.in/product_details.asp?pid=9781849161121&Bunker the link where you’ll be switching to, to get your copy.

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