Monday, October 26, 2009

Read Several Days Ago: "The Book of Murder" by Guillermo Martinez

Read Several Days Ago: The Book of Murder by Guillermo Martinez, 2008, Translation by Sonia Soto, 9780670019946.

Novelist in Argentina is contacted by a woman, Luciana, who worked for him as a transcriptionist 10 years ago. Transcriptionist asks Novelist for his assistance because she believes another novelist, Kloster, has been murdering her family members for the past decade. Novelist narrates tale of month long business relationship with Luciana and his own deep admiration for the brilliant Kloster. Novelist meets Luciana and Luciana tells tale of working for Kloster and her suing him for sexual harassment. Luciana tells tales of tragic deaths of her boyfriend, her parents, and her brother. Luciana fears she or her younger sister are next. Luciana comes to Novelist in a panic when she learns her sister will be interviewing Kloster.

Novelist contrives method to meet with the now famous Kloster. Kloster tells his side of the tale. Kloster's work with Luciana, making a failed pass at her, Kloster's insane wife, his resulting divorce due to the lawsuit, his wife's murder of their daughter. Kloster's writing of a revenge themed novel that he felt was partly written by a mysterious force or being that entered his mind. His idea that the being has been killing Luciana's family.

Luciana ends up killing herself to save her sister. Sister and Kloster start doing the deed. Novelist is left to wonder on the idea of chance versus paranoid obsession.

This was good. There were a few other, smaller characters but Martinez told the story through the three main characters and he did a damn good job. Not to mention that the translator, Soto, must also be quite good. Not a mystery or a thriller either. Noir-ish though with a single guy, the mysterious, and possibly powerful, Kloster, the paranoid Luciana, the young and beautiful sister in sexually charged danger from Kloster.

Not as much math discussion in this like in The Oxford Murders. Novelist and Kloster have a discussion on chance and probability. Is Luciana a nutbag? Indications point to "Yes, she sure is." But, her parents are killed by a poisonous mushroom and her brother is murdered by someone who writes to a convict to let the convict know the brother was shagging the convict's wife. What is the probability that Luciana's relatives and boyfriend would all die in rare ways? What or who should Novelist believe?

This brought on thoughts about Argentina and the Dirty War. The War was never referred to by Martinez but I pondered it anyway.

Other: Over the weekend I watched Illuminados por el fuego [Blessed by fire] which was about Argentine veterans of the Falklands. After such a disastrous and completely fucked up campaign by the Argentines I was surprised of the continued fervor and belief by Argentines that the Malvinas belong to them. I'm guessing that part of that is both national pride and true belief the islands are really theirs, and the other part is sorrow over the deaths of so many young guys was for naught.

The battle scenes in Illuminados were well done. They focused only on the two soldiers in question and showed things from their perspective: no sweeping aerial views or coverage of other battles on the islands, showed the confusion of the night battles, CGI added tracers and sound effects were effectively used.

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