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The Secret In Their Eyes [Paperback]

Eduardo Sacheri

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Book Description

Oct. 7 2011

Benjamín Chaparro is a retired law clerk still obsessed by the brutal, decades-old rape and murder of a young married woman in her own bedroom. While attempting to write a book about the case, he revisits the details of the investigation, recalling along the way the major players: Pablo Sandoval, Chaparro’s erratic yet brilliant partner; Ricardo Morales, the deceased woman’s husband, who never recovered from the tragedy; and Isidoro Gómez, the sickeningly obsessive suspect with whom Chaparro feels an uneasy kinship. As he reaches into the past, Chaparro also recalls the beginning of his long,unrequited love for Irene, then just an intern, now a respected judge. Set in the Buenos Aires of the 1970s, Sacheri’s tale reveals the underpinnings of Argentina’s Dirty War and takes on the question of justice—what it really means and in whose hands it belongs. This haunting crime thriller also explores the boundaries of love in all its forms: adoration, devotion and obsession.


Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Ltd (Oct. 7 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1443406821
  • ISBN-13: 978-1443406826
  • Product Dimensions: 20.8 x 13.7 x 3.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 431 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #368,383 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

“Beguiling… [A] complex and engaging narrative.” —Publishers Weekly 

“A brutal murder is the starting point for this strange, compelling journey through Argentina’s criminal-justice system… A view of the world as a dark place illuminated by personal loyalties.” —Kirkus Reviews

“Intriguing and often riveting…This book is primarily a murder mystery, but the focus on 1970s Argentina and the internal angst of the protagonist add layers of complexity. Highly recommended for readers with an interest in suspense, history, and the human psyche.” —Library Journal

“In straightforward prose, Sacheri builds a startling psychological mystery—about the secrets of a country corroded by state terror, and the secrets of a heart so suffocated that it cannot utter its simple, pure desire.” —Michael Greenberg, author of Beg, Borrow, Steal and Hurry Down Sunshine

"The Secret of Their Eyes...is a supremely accessible novel and a thrilling page-turner whose most nuanced tensions lie in the relationships between its structures and characters and the questions that these pose." —Fiction Writers Review

"The Secret in Their Eyes is a beautifully written novel, questioning what compels some people to act and what allows others to let life rush straight past until it is almost too late." —Lip Magazine

"[A] brilliant, psychological thriller...based on the past, yet a past that still reverberates so powerfully in the present." —The Arts Fuse

"Sacheri did something genius here: he wrote a book within a book...If you like mysteries and detective novels, this is definitely one to read." —Tulsa Books Examiner

"Sacheri slyly undermines our assumptions about the most fundamental human responses in a novel that is deeply political and profoundly compassionate." —Barnes & Noble Review --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

EDUARDO SACHERI was born in Buenos Aires in 1967. His first collection of short stories, Esperándolo a Tito y otros cuentos de fútbol (Waiting for Tito and Other Football Stories), was published in Spain in 2000 under the title Los traidores y otros cuentos (The Traitors and Other Stories). Three of his other collections were published between 2001 and 2007, all of which have been bestsellers in Argentina. His novel La pregunta de sus ojos has been sold into eight territories, and the film adaptation, The Secret in Their Eyes, won the Academy Award forBest Foreign Language Film in 2010.


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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.6 out of 5 stars  38 reviews
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "Thou know'st no less but all; I have unclasp'd to thee the book even of my secret soul." Sept. 28 2011
By Leonard Fleisig - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product
Usually, before seeing a movie based on a book that I've enjoyed I wonder how the movie could possibly be as good as the book. Here, I had the opposite concern. I had seen the movie The Secret in Their Eyes (El Secreto de Sus Ojos) and it was tremendous. It received the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film in 2010, an honor that was well-deserved. So, when I picked up the book upon which the screenplay was based I did wonder whether the book would capture my imagination the way the movie did. My concern was fleeting. By the time I read the first few pages I knew that I was about to be entertained and moved by the book.

Set in Argentina, The Secret in Their Eyes tells the story of Benjamin Chaparro. The book opens in 1999 with Chaparro's retirement from his position as a Clerk in the examining magistrate's office in Buenos. Chaparro decides to write a novel based upon a tragic, brutal murder that came across his desk earlier in his career. The murder and its aftermath took place during a turbulent time in Argentina's history, a time that culminated in the "Dirty War", a time of great internal state-supported violence, from 1976 to 1983. The book tells two stories: the story of the murder and its aftermath and the hopelessly unrequited relationship between Chaparro and Irene, a Judge sitting on the bench in Chaparro's court. Argentina's time of troubles provides the political backdrop against which these events play out. I claim no particular knowledge of Argentinean political history and I imagine that there are references in the book that may have been lost on me that others may have spotted. That said, and even though Sacheri was not writing for a foreign audience, the writing was clear enough for me to understand the backdrop to the story.

This brief synopsis cannot begin to convey the qualities of this book. The characterizations were excellent and conveyed Chapparo and all the other players in this `drama' as real people with flaws, insecurities, and the occasional flash of bravery or moral courage. As to the plotting, Sacheri does an excellent job keeping both main plots going. In fact, although I have seen the movie and knew the ending, the writing was good enough to keep me in suspense.

The Secret in Their Eyes tells a compelling story in an admirable fashion. In addition to the human element of the story, I could not help but feel as if I was on the streets and offices of Buenos Aires as I read the book. That is a signal to me both that the author has done a good job of capturing the essence of a place and that the translator has done an excellent job of preserving that essence in another language. I recently read another marvelous book, Kamchatka, set in Argentina during the same time frame. Taken together these two pieces of fiction have provided me with a window (even if a small one) into a different time and place that made the experience of reading it that much more rewarding.

Highly recommended. L. Fleisig
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful novel, transcending all genres Sept. 5 2011
By Patto - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product
By page two, I knew I was in the hands of a terrific prose stylist. Soon the strangled corpse of a beautiful young woman told me I was in for a murder mystery. Then I discovered in the subtext a tale of hopeless love. But politics play a role too, for part of the drama arises in the bloody 1970s of Argentina.

So how can we possibly categorize this novel? Real literature - and addictive reading, full of surprises right up to the very last page.

The structure is clever. Benjamin Chaparro, deputy clerk just retired from the Buenos Aires Examining Magistrate's Court, decides to write a novel about a case he worked on. His novel begins with the murder of the wife of a bank clerk. The lazy judge wants to shelve the case quickly for lack of leads, but Chaparro resists. No end of trouble results, unimaginable trouble spanning decades and feeding the reader one amazing development after another.

I loved the characters in this book: the oddly heroic Chaparro, his spectacularly alcoholic co-worker, the poignant victim, her obsessively grieving husband, the bad cops, the good cop, the inscrutable woman Chaparro secretly adores.

Despite the bizarre narrative, it's hard to believe this is fiction. Eduardo Sacheri once worked in a sentencing court in Buenos Aires, and his former colleagues helped him besides with a multitude of juridical details. So everything about Chaparro's world feels real, right down to the hand-sewn bindings of the case files.

I can wholeheartedly recommend this novel to thrill seekers and literary readers alike. Sacheri is a major international talent.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A secret life, a secret love Nov. 14 2011
By TChris - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I wouldn't call The Secret in Their Eyes a thriller (although it develops some thrills toward the end), or even a mystery. The novel tells a very personal story of one man's role in the Argentinean system of criminal justice, his mild obsession with an unsolved murder, and the difficulty of pursuing the truth in a corrupt political regime.

Facing a lonely, dreaded retirement from his life as a deputy court clerk, Benjamín Chaparro decides to fill his time writing the story of Ricardo Morales. When they first meet (in the 1960s), Chaparro is overseeing the investigation of Morales' pregnant wife's murder. The two men form a bond. Morales is, like Chaparro, a morose man who prefers rainy days to sunshine, who looks at photographs and feels a sense of loss for the "vanished paradise" they depict. Yet Chaparro envies Morales because Morales has experienced true love, while Morales drifts through relationships, marrying and divorcing, never content.

Chaparro harbors a secret love for a former co-worker named Irene, a judge who, thanks to his retirement, is no longer part of his daily life. Writing of unrequited love is, I think, a South American specialty, and Eduardo Sacheri does it masterfully. I could feel Chaparro's fears and regrets, his heartache -- "the ache of stifled feelings" -- in my bones. As Chaparro compares his life to Morales', the contrast is between a love kept hidden and a love lost: each tragic in its own way. Neither man knows how to live the rest of his life: Morales without the wife he loved, Chaparro without the joy of seeing Irene every day.

The murder investigation, such as it is, drags on for years, spurred forward by Chaparro's intuition and later by a fortuitous confrontation between a railroad conductor and the murder suspect. A third of the novel remains when the crime is solved, another sign that the investigation is secondary to the real story; a happy ending would not be true to the lives of either Chaparro or Morales. The novel then raises an intriguing moral question -- how much self-sacrifice should be expected from Chaparro to save Morales from harm? -- and concludes with a satisfying (if not entirely unexpected) twist as the secret of Morales' life is revealed.

I like the way the story is structured, the story within a story: Chaparro ponders the book he's writing (what scenes should he include or omit, whether the book is about Morales or himself), a story that Sacheri wraps around the novel that Chaparro actually writes; the reader benefits from reading both Chaparro's novel and the story of its creation. Sacheri indulges in a bit of political commentary (he has little good to say about Organía's military regime) but the novel isn't a polemic. It is instead a subtle, nuanced, absorbing look at the intersection of two lives and the difficult choices made by two decent men, with the addition of a beautifully unresolved romance (a story carefully designed to continue in the reader's mind after the novel ends). If I could, I would give The Secret in Their Eyes 4 1/2 stars.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The question in their eyes Sept. 24 2011
By Evelyn A. Getchell - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product
The Secret in Their Eyes is the heart-pounding 2005 novel of Argentinean author Eduardo Sacheri, recently translated into English superbly by John Cullen. It is a riveting crime thriller and a terse and bold Argentinean investigative court procedural structured on the sturdy backbone of a deeply affecting story about love... pure love, jealous love, lost love, unrequited love.

Benjamin Chaparro is a recently retired criminal court investigator who is obsessed by an unsolved, heinous rape and murder case which he was assigned to earlier in his career and that has eluded him for 25 years. Now an unmarried retiree in his 60s with plenty of time on his hands, Chaparro decides to occupy himself by turning into a novel the never-ending detailed flashbacks of the brutal case which altered his life then and continues to haunt him still.

Looking back on the details of the unsolved case, Chaparro cannot help but reflect on the more intimate details of his own personal life, for both his personal life and his lifelong career as a court detective have been married together, have been intertwined by his deep affection for a justice department colleague, the honorable Judge Irene Hornos, whom he has been secretly in love for with for many years, ever since he first set eyes upon her when she entered the court as his intern, much earlier in both of their careers.

Chaparro's novel then becomes the novel within the novel, a smart narrative device Sacheri utilizes creatively to explore the leitmotif of that which the eyes will reveal but that which they cannot say.

This is a masterful technique to study the dark backdrop of Buenos Aires during the Argentinean Dirty War from 1976 to 1983, and to reveal the "dirty" underpinnings of a judicial system controlled by a corrupted government and military.

How can justice prevail in a corrupted system? Is bad justice better than no justice? What is true justice and from whose hands is it administered? How far is the individual entitled to seek personal justice and retribution? Can there really be any recompense or restitution for a life and a love destroyed? These are just some of the questions which are held and answered by the secret of their eyes.

Even as a romance, The Secret in Their Eyes is every bit as compelling as the thriller aspect of Sacheri's narrative. Much is implied throughout both Chaparro's novel and the overlying novel of Sacheri, and the author's narrative provides the intriguing cohesion, but any true revelation remains secreted in the eyes.

"...He goes home to his house in Castelar, where the final chapters of his story are waiting to be written, one way or another, because he's beginning to find the situation intolerable...which has nearly ruined him, which has bound him to that woman, that woman sent to him from heaven or hell and now lodged inextricably in his heart and his head, that woman who's still, even at this distance, asking him what's wrong, with the loveliest eyes in the world."
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars terrific historical Argentinian police procedural Nov. 8 2011
By Harriet Klausner - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
In Argentina, sixty year old Benjamin Chaparro has retired after three plus decades investigating crime. He knows he is an ancient dinosaur who has seen so much change in his country from the nasty Dirty War period to the cleansing afterward. However, one case remains imprinted in his gut; the one he begins to write a book about.

When Benjamin was in his late twenties back in 1968 as a Palace of Justice deputy clerk, he investigated the brutal rape and murder of teacher Liliana Colotto. His inquiry had three results. First he identifies the killer Gomez through revealing photos; he kept the case from going cold until four years later he caught the culprit, but corruption superseded justice. Second that fed the raging frenzy of the victim's husband Morales who lived with one value: avenging his late wife. Finally, though he did everything right except for falling in love with intern Irene Hornos who did not reciprocate his feelings, Benjamin had to flee Buenos Aires for over a decade as connections and corruption made him a target of the execution goons deploying the Dirty war.

This is a translation of a terrific historical Argentinian police procedural that will grip readers with the outcome on the three men linked forever with the death of the young woman. The story line is fast-paced whether the setting is the sexagenarian pondering about his book or the investigation the years in self exile. With a deep dark look at The War Years, readers will understand why the movie version of the novel won Best Foreign Film Oscar.

Harriet Klausner

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