Published by Century
Publication date 26 January 2017
Source – review copy
“A gripping psychological thriller full of hidden fragments and dark reflections.
How would you piece together a murder?
Do you trust other people’s memories?
Do you trust your own?
Princeton, 1987: renowned psychologist Professor Joseph Weider is brutally murdered.
New York, twenty-five years later: literary agent Peter Katz receives a manuscript. Or is it a confession?
Today: unearth the secrets of The Book of Mirrors and discover why your memory is the most dangerous weapon of all.
Already translated into 37 languages, The Book of Mirrors is the perfect novel for fans of psychological suspense and reading group fiction.”
Read more on the Penguin website.
A literary agent receives an intriguing manuscript. Drawn in by the covering letter sent by Richard Flynn, he starts to read the submission. Soon he is enthralled by the manuscript which describes how Richard Flyn came to know Joseph Weidner who was brutally murdered 25 years ago. When the manuscript abruptly ends the agent tries to track down the story. But what is the true story? How much do memories warp over time and what really happened all those years ago?
I very much enjoyed this interesting crime novel.
The book’s theme is that memory can become warped or altered, either immediately after a traumatic event or over a period of time. This can be the brain’s natural way of dealing with trauma or through being manipulated. The question is how much can we trust our memories?
The book is divided into three parts, each with a different narrator. I thought this device worked extremely well. The first third deals with the manuscript and is almost a story within a story. The reader is lured in with Richard’s tale, reading the manuscript in time with the agent. The first impression we get of the characters is through Richard’s eyes. This effects how we view the characters as they appear during the remainder of the book. For things appear to not be as Richard remembered and the reader is challenged to decide who and what to believe. The voice of each narrator is slightly different as is their own take on the case. Some were involved in the case, others not, but the reader has to decide what to believe.
The story draws the reader in, the use of a story within a story is a great technique of adding a layer to the narrative. Conversely, the use of narrators who are not directly involved in the incident has the effect of separating the reader from the tale, a distance that could make the story too remote, without enough layers to make the reader care about the protagonists but luckily the author manages not to cross that line. There is the constant niggle that the main players in the murder story can’t be trusted. The reader is led to question who is telling the truth, or rather whose memory is the more accurate.
The Book of Mirrors is an engaging book. I found myself nearly a third of the way through the book after initially picking it up to see if I wanted to read it. It also makes you think about whether your first memories are actual memories or images created as a result of what we think happened. I will add though that the book seemed more about who could be trusted than whether the memories mentioned in the book were true or not, that’s to say more about the manipulation of truth and different view points tag memories of events.
This book nearly didn’t happen in that the author had nearly give up hope of being published. A kind, and very honest publisher who loved the book but knew he couldn’t honour the advances the book deserved advised EO Chirovici to try one more time. Luckily he did as his book was snapped up by a London agent and to date has sold in 30 territories.
An entertaining, clever story, told in an engaging manner that fit the story. I’ll be keen to read more work by EO Chirovici in the future.