Thursday, July 3, 2008

The Book of Murder by Guillermo Martinez

Published: Abacus, 2008
ISBN: 978-0-349-12092-8

When a young Argentinian writer with a looming deadline breaks his wrist, his editor suggests employing a typist to help him complete his work. Coincidentally it happens that a very competent typist who usually works for the famous but reclusive crime novelist, Kloster, is free for the next month while he is away at a writers’ retreat. And so the young and pretty student, Luciana comes to work for the unnamed narrator of this very unusual story.

Ten years later, he gets a phone call from a distraught Luciana asking for his help. Everyone close to her is dying in unusual circumstances and she is accusing Kloster of murdering them. She claims that Kloster is punishing her because she sued him for sexual harassment, which led to a devastating personal tragedy for him. Luciana begs for his help to stop Kloster before the last two members of her family die.

Against his will the narrator finds himself drawn into Luciana’s problems, and at her insistence, confronts Kloster, who he finds has a credible explanation for all of Luciana’s accusations.

The reader, like the narrator swings between believing and disbelieving Luciana. Is she mad, paranoid or completely sane? Is Kloster totally innocent or an extremely clever killer? The line between fact and fiction became extremely blurred, and by the end it was really no clearer.

The characters didn’t really engage me, none of them being particularly likable, and the story was strange and a little confusing. The Book of Murder kept me reading, although ultimately I found it a little unsatisfying.

Guillermo Martinez has a PhD in Mathematics and lives in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The Book of Murder is his second novel.


  1. Not sure about this one, on the basis of your review.....I'll think about it.

    I have just started a reading group at FriendFeed here:

    Please take a look and join it if you like the look of it, and do ask your fellow AustCrimers, as I don't know all their email addresses.

    Best wishes

  2. Maybe it was just me. I don't insist that books be wrapped up neatly at the end, and even quite like ambiguous endings, but this one was more ambiguous than usual. Although, I do have to say it kept me thinking about what really had happened for a while after I finished it.
    Thanks for the friendfeed invite, I've joined up.

  3. Just finished this book -- wholeheartedly agree with your review. I didn't like the ending at all.

  4. Thanks, Lourdes. I've forgotten most of the detail of this book by now, but do remember finding the ending in particular, not at all satisfying.

  5. It is one of my favorites book of Martinez, I read it like 5 times already.