The Book of Murder, By Guillermo Martineztrs Sonia Soto

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The Independent Culture

Guillermo Martinez has a mathematics PhD, and the creativity and the mastery of logic necessary to that stern discipline are both evident in this brilliant crime thriller. In Buenos Aires, a writer of genius is gradually killing off the friends and family of a young woman who inadvertently wrecked his life. Or is he? The deaths all appear to be accidents and it would have taken superhuman ingenuity to arrange them all. Yet there is something artistically satisfying about each one.

This novel is a meditation on chance, on revenge, on the power of literature, on randomness and causality, and on the awesome strength of human emotions, whether love or hatred. As clever and as erudite as Borges (Martinez casually name-checks Descartes, Thomas Mann, Jean-François Lyotard and Henry James, among others), this is also a gripping thriller written in lucid and compelling prose. Let's hear it, too, for the translator.

The plot is utterly unpredictable, but never capricious; it feels as solid and uncompromising as iron. Sometimes the most readable novels are not the most durable, but I've a feeling this will be.

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