Tuesday, April 1, 2014
Review of The Secret in Their Eyes by Eduardo Sacheri (Other Press, 2011; Spanish 2005)
The Secret in Their Eyes charts forty years in the life of Benjamin Chaparro, a court clerk in Buenos Aires, whose life is over-shadowed by the investigation into the death of Liliana Morales and his love for a married woman. Sacheri tells the story through two entwined narratives. The first follows Chaparro retiring from the court service, starting to write a novel, and coming to terms with his new life and his loneliness and longing for Irene. The second is the text from the novel charting the death of Liliana, the investigation over a number of years, the quest for justice, and the material and emotional effects on her husband and Chaparro. The two strands are very nicely interwoven, the observations and reflections are keenly detailed, and the pace is judged beautifully. Both stories are fascinating, especially the investigation and how it became entangled in the dirty war in Argentina during the 1970s. The characterisation is very well done, particularly the melancholic Chaparro, and plotting is excellent, though the story tails off a little towards the end, with both storylines feeling like they weren’t quite fully worked through (ironically, a recurrent element in the book is that Chaparro is never quite happy with what he believes to be the end of his novel, going on to extend the story). Nonetheless, The Secret in Their Eyes is a very well written piece of literary crime fiction. The book was made into a film of the same name that won the 2010 foreign language Oscar (which, if I remember it correctly was quite faithful to the book, though it had more tension and the ending was more definitive).