The Strawberry Picker is a crime novel and it is the first book in a series of three. The writer is German and the English translation has been very successful in England. Anybody I lend the book to is gripped by it, including my mother.
There are quite a few main characters in this book: the three girls Caro, Jenna and Merle, Imke, a crime novel writer and Jenna’s mother, Nathaniel and Malle, the strawberry pickers, Claudio, Merle’s boyfriend and Bert, the chief inspector.
The three girls are eighteen years old and share a flat in a small German town called Bröhl. Imke, Jenna’s divorced but wealthy mother, lives in an old, converted mill near the strawberry farm.
The book opens with the murder of an eighteen-year-old girl whose murderer cannot be found. The crime is similar to two murders that took place the previous year in the north of Germany. Everybody is scared and is constantly talking about these murders. Then one day Caro is found murdered in the woods, stabbed seven times like the other girls. At the funeral, Jenna swears to revenge her friend. Together with her friend Merle she sets off to solve the murder. It is obvious who the murderer is as the book introduces him early on and gives us an early insight into his mind, his memories and his thinking. The reader slowly gets to know him better and wonders whether he will strike again, who he will kill, and whether the chief inspector or Merle and Jenna will be able to track him down.
The book is written from the point of view of different characters. When we follow Jenna’s thoughts and activities the author uses the first person. But we are also let into the mind of the murderer as if he was talking to us directly. We do not find out a lot about each person – but enough to build a picture in our minds. The book constantly switches from one viewpoint to the other, keeping the suspense going.
Unexpected things happen to Jenna and to Merle, especially when they get involved with the murderer himself, unknowingly of course. The reader however, knows who the murderer is and what danger they are exposing themselves to.
Monika Feth is a German author but her thrillers have been translated into English. She was born in 1951 and started off as a journalist. She has been nominated for quite a few German literature prizes and has written over 15 novels.
I recommend this book for people who like detective stories and crime stories. It has a lot of suspense and is not for the faint hearted, because it is quite realistic and open about the sad events. But it is not only about murder, it is also about relationships between friends, daughters and mothers, and how good and healthy family relationships make people strong while bad parent relationships can bring harm and confusion. It is also about friendship and how friendship can protect people.