W THE BOOK OF MIR­RORS

Crime Scene - - POST MORTEM - By KEVIN HAR­LEY BY E.O. CHI­ROVICI

hen it comes to who­dunits, the in­ves­ti­ga­tion cuts both ways: as the pro­tag­o­nist delves into the mys­tery, read­ers in­ter­pret their frac­tured iden­tity. In this seam­less mix of lit­er­ary ex­per­i­ment and page-turn­ing mys­tery, Ro­ma­ni­anHun­gar­ian au­thor Chi­rovici ex­plores that idea with great élan, un­pick­ing the ‘truth’ about a 25-year-old mur­der from three view­points.

Sold to mul­ti­ple ter­ri­to­ries last year, this book ar­rived in the UK with a buzz. Chi­rovici’s English­language de­but sees him mak­ing taut, tense work of liv­ing up to that hype and his own am­bi­tions. This skil­ful mo­saic of prob­lem­atic mem­o­ries and miss­ing manuscripts begins with a stu­dent-writ­ten novel, con­cern­ing the killing of a Prince­ton pro­fes­sor, be­ing sent to a lit­er­ary agent. That novel within bris­tles with noir-ish riffs on ob­ses­sion and jeal­ousy, deftly lay­ered with clues, twists, de­fer­rals and rug-pulls.

As the truth looms, the man­u­script dra­mat­i­cally cuts off and the per­spec­tives of a re­porter and a retired de­tec­tive take hold, re­veal­ing a three­ages-of-man struc­ture: stu­dent, mid-lifer and wise old-timer. Trou­bled male psy­ches pro­vide one an­chor­ing theme; the oth­ers in­clude mem­ory and the power of sto­ry­telling. Chi­rovici’s brisk prose style never al­lows self-re­flec­tion to be­come sel­f­re­gard, and this is a meta-novel which pos­sesses rip­ping mo­men­tum and brims with am­bi­gu­ity. A high-grade mys­tery that’s ripe for in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

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