The Secret In Their Eyes Paperback – Oct 18 2011
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“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.See all Product Description
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
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
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.
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.
Eduardo Sacheri's "La pregunta de sus ojos," translated into English as "The Secret in Their Eyes," is a deceptively brisk novel: between the short chapters, the larger-than-average font, and the engaging premise, it feels like a much slighter thing than its 380-page length would suggest - that is, until some time after you've set the book down when you realize you can't stop thinking about it. It's never gruesome - Chaparro, for all his years of experience in the criminal justice system, can't bring himself to read the detailed portion of an autopsy report - but Sacheri's understated approach to the horrors he uncovers makes them loom all the larger in the reader's imagination, where the questions inevitably find a way to answer themselves. I guessed - no, I *knew* - where Sacheri was going long before Chaparro had begun to suspect a thing, and still I found myself tormented in the final pages with a palpable suspense, the kind that makes it almost painful not to skim ahead for relief. As suspenseful as it is, however, "The Secret in Their Eyes" is not a thriller, nor even a mystery. It's a character study disguised as a crime procedural, and may be even more appealing to readers of character-driven literary fiction than to genre fans.
Having read the novel only in translation, I can't comment on its linguistic accuracy, but I know enough Spanish to know some of the specific challenges John Cullen had to have faced, and it's obvious that he met them with grace. Never does "The Secret in Their Eyes" *feel* like a translation, even when it touches upon the characters' language use in ways that wouldn't come through in a word-for-word-equivalent English text. Cullen's mastery of language obviously goes beyond fluency in five tongues to include a genuine touch of artistry. He's also included a brief Translator's Note at the beginning with some necessary background information on the Argentine judicial system and the period of political turmoil against which Sacheri sets his tale. (Interest in having this novel available in English probably arose as a result of the highly-regarded film adaptation, "El secreto de sus ojos," but I do wish it had been published under the more accurate title of "The Question in Their Eyes" rather than attempting to tie in with the film.)
"The Secret in Their Eyes" is a remarkable little piece of work that raises all sorts of worthy questions about love and justice and suffering and vengeance, and wisely attempts to answer only a few of them. This is a book that should probably be read twice: once quickly for the story, and once slowly to savor the beautiful prose and haunting characters and inevitable unfolding of events.