The Secret in Their Eyesby Eduardo Sacheri
Now a Major Motion Picture starring Julia Roberts, Nicole Kidman, and Chiwetel Eijiofor
Benjamín Chaparro is a man haunted by his past—a retired detective, he remains obsessed with the decades-old case of the rape and murder of a young woman in her own bedroom. As he revisits the details of the investigation, he is reacquainted with his/b>
Now a Major Motion Picture starring Julia Roberts, Nicole Kidman, and Chiwetel Eijiofor
Benjamín Chaparro is a man haunted by his past—a retired detective, he remains obsessed with the decades-old case of the rape and murder of a young woman in her own bedroom. As he revisits the details of the investigation, he is reacquainted with his similarly long, unrequited love for Irene Hornos, then just an intern, now a respected judge. Absorbing and masterfully crafted, The Secret in Their Eyes is a meditation on the effects of the passage of time and unfulfilled desire.
Eduardo Sacheri’s tale is imbued with the subdued terror that characterized the Dirty War of 1970s Argentina, and was made into the Academy Award winning film of the same name in 2009. Julia Roberts, Nicole Kidman, and Chiwetel Eijiofor now star in the English language depiction of this gripping story, to be released in the Fall of 2015.
“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
A brutal murder is the starting point for this strange, compelling journey through Argentina's criminal-justice system; the Argentinian writer's 2005 novel inspired the same-named film that won the 2009 Foreign Language Oscar.
Buenos Aires, 1968. Chaparro is a deputy clerk in the Palace of Justice. That title suggests a nobody. He's not. He oversees police work at crime scenes, such as the murder of Liliana Colotto, a young married schoolteacher. She has been raped and strangled. The conscientious 28-year-old also accompanies the detective to inform her husband, a bank teller. Chaparro bonds with the devastated Morales, who is not under suspicion, and intervenes when two dark-skinned workmen from the building are brought in and roughed up, blatant racial profiling. He has them released and files a complaint against their accusers; then, with masterful insight, he singles out the likely suspect as Morales is sorting through old photographs. One young man, Gómez, is gazing at the future victim, the adoration clear in his eyes. Chaparro's hunch proves correct, but the whereabouts of the presumed killer are unknown, so Chaparro must bend the rules to keep the case from being sealed. All this intrigue is handled beautifully, as are the subsequent twists and turns: the arrest of Gómez four years later on an unrelated charge, his imprisonment, his surprise release and Chaparro's own sudden vulnerability (he must be whisked out of town to a safe jurisdiction). Morales is memorable, too, a baleful presence intent on only one thing: revenge. Still, the novel is hardly without flaws. There is a secondary story line: Chaparro's undeclared, lifelong love for a married judge. The story starts languidly with Chaparro's retirement and his decision to write about the Morales case. At intervals, the clerk turned writer pauses to wonder how he should proceed. These are irritating distractions from the novel's theme: a good man working to secure justice in a fractured system.
A view of the world as a dark place illuminated by personal loyalties.
- Other Press, LLC
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Read an Excerpt
I’m not sure about my reasons for recounting the story of Ricardo Morales after so many years. I can say that what happened to him has always aroused an obscure fascination in me, as if the man’s fate, a life destroyed by tragedy and grief, provided me with a chance to reflect on my own worst fears. I’ve often caught myself feeling a certain guilty joy at the disasters of others, as if the fact that horrible things happened to other people meant that my own life would be exempt from such tragedies, as if I’d get a kind of safe-conduct based on some obtuse law of probability: If such and such a catastrophe befalls Joe Blow, then it’s unlikely that it will also strike Joe’s acquaintances, among whom I count myself. It’s not as though I can boast of a life filled with success, but when I compare my misfortunes with what Morales suffered, I come out well ahead. In any case, it’s not my story I want to tell, it’s Morales’s story, or Isidoro Gómez’s, which is the same story but seen from the other side, or seen upside down, or something like that.
Although the morbid interest my subject arouses in me isn’t the only reason why I’m writing these pages, it carries some weight and plays some part. But mostly, I suppose, I’m telling the story because I have time to tell it. A lot of time, too much time, so much time that the daily trifles whose sum is my life quickly dissolve into the monotonous nothingness that surrounds me. Being retired is worse than I’d imagined. I should have known it would be. Not because of anything I knew about retirement, but because things we fear generally turn out worse when they happen than when we imagined them.
Meet 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 Soccer Stories) was published in Spain in 2000 under the title Traidores y otros cuentos (Traitors and Other Stories). Three other collections were published between 2001 and 2007, all of which have been best sellers in Argentina. His novel La pregunta de sus ojos has been sold into eight territories, and the film adaptation, The Secret inTheir Eyes, won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Film in 2010.
John Cullen is the translator of many books from Spanish, French, German, and Italian, including Margaret Mazzantini’s Don’t Move, Yasmina Khadra’s Middle East Trilogy (The Swallows of Kabul, The Attack, The Sirens of Baghdad), Christa Wolf’s Medea, and Manuel de Lope’s The Wrong Blood (Other Press). He lives in upstate New York.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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This is an amazing book. Powerful, profound, hard-edged. It has an almost nightmarish aspect to it. Great story, well-drawn characters plus a look at life in Argentina during this period of time. A book that deserves to be read!
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
From almost the very beginning of this book I had mixed feelings about it. These feelings persisted until the very end and in a way I feel like I've read two different books about the same characters. One is set in the present day and tells about a retired court employee struggling with writing a book and with his love for a woman he believes is out of his reach. The other is the actual book Chaparro is writing and it is set in the 60s and tells about Chaparro's investigation into the rape and murder of a young woman and how it ties people together for decades and affects the course of their lives. The past and present alternated and I really enjoyed the "past" parts. The voice was direct and strong, although not invulnerable, the events unfolded at a good pace and I really liked the characters, sympathized with them and hoped they would succeed. The present was more difficult. Half the time it read like a stream-of-consciousness rant about how much Chaparro is in love with Irene and how he can't live without thinking about her all the time. These parts were much less enjoyable, to me they were in the way of the real story and it was tiring reading about Benjamin's lovesickness over and over, how he couldn't sleep for days after every meeting with Irene, remembering the way she smiled and looked at him and smelled. It was more like reading about a teenager living through his first crush than about a 60-year-old man and whenever these chapters started I wished the author would go back to telling us about the investigation. If someone asked me to quickly name one thing that sets the writing of this book apart from the others I've read this year I'd say it's the vocabulary. There were more SAT words in this one novel than I recall seeing in all the rest of them combined and the best part is that it felt natural, like that's just the way the author talks and it was thrilling to read a book where words you don't see every day, let alone use, don't feel forced. The sentence structure and the way the sentences fit together was unusual, I'm just not sure whether that's because the novel is translated or that's the way it was meant to be. It took some getting used to but eventually it became charming in a way and I almost stopped noticing it. Reading The Secrets In Their Eyes made me think about justice. There are so many crime TV shows these days and at the end of almost every episode the guilty get what they deserve but here things aren't so simple and I keep thinking about how more often than not the scum of the earth keep going, adding one wrongdoing after another to the scorecard they feel no remorse about while the honest and the righteous suffer at their hands, make sacrifices to ensure that the guilty get punished and even then there are no guarantees that it'll actually happen. I guess that's the reason we have the superheroes and the TV shows - we want justice to prevail and for the good guys to come out on top. And here they do. Eventually.