Sunday, June 18, 2017

The Book of Mirrors by E. O. Chirovici

The Book of Mirrors is a complex but intriguing slow boil of a noir thriller by E. O. Chirovici. Richard Flynn, a journalist and failed novelist sends the first part of his manuscript to literary agent Peter Katz. By the time Katz gets around to reading the manuscript about Flynn’s time at Princeton and the unsolved murder of a famous professor, Flynn himself has passed away. Convinced there is a book worth publishing there, Katz hires a journalist, John Keller, to either track down the missing manuscript or solve the crime and finish the story. Keller in turn enlists the help of the original detective on the case, Roy Freeman.

The Book of Mirrors is as much about the fallibility of memory as it is about the solving of the crime. Flynn’s recollection of events as recounted in the manuscript differ jarringly from his roommate and fellow student, Laura Baines. Other witnesses have still different accounts. How much of this is due to faulty memories versus lying? One of the witnesses suffers from a specific form of amnesia and Detective Freeman is in the early stages of Alzheimers.

The story is broken up into four parts, each narrated from a different perspective. The murder itself is quite interesting and leads to questions about what the professor was working on what if any role his work played in his death. The perspectives and recollections are so jarringly different at times that you can’t tell which is more frightening; that someone is lying or that people truthfully remember things in such vastly different ways.

The story never builds a true sense of urgency as it moves along at a steady pace. The crime and the investigation, however are very intriguing, almost mesmerizing as it pulls you along to a satisfying conclusion.

The audio version is narrated by Jonathan Todd Ross, George Newbern, Corey Brill and Pete Simonelli. Each narrates a different section of the book. All four do a great job with the narration. Their pace and intonation match the tension in the book. A book like this is heavily dependent on atmosphere, and all four do a great job of conveying the pervasive sense of foreboding and uncertainty. E.O. Chirovici is not a native English speaker, and it shows at times with certain expressions (served on a silver plate rather than platter). This can be slightly jarring, but not enough to take you out of the story.

The Book of Mirrors is a steady-paced, noirish mystery that will hold your attention from beginning to end. Recommended read (and listen).

I was fortunate to be provided a copy of this audiobook by the publisher.

Description: When literary agent Peter Katz receives a partial book submission entitled The Book of Mirrors, he is intrigued by its promise and original voice. The author, Richard Flynn, has written a memoir about his time as an English student at Princeton in the late 1980s, documenting his relationship with the protégée of the famous Professor Joseph Wieder. One night just before Christmas 1987, Wieder was brutally murdered in his home. The case was never solved. Now, twenty-five years later, Katz suspects that Richard Flynn is either using his book to confess to the murder, or to finally reveal who committed the violent crime.

But the manuscript ends abruptly—and its author is dying in the hospital with the missing pages nowhere to be found. Hell-bent on getting to the bottom of the story, Katz hires investigative journalist John Keller to research the murder and reconstruct the events for a true crime version of the memoir. Keller tracks down several of the mysterious key players, including retired police detective Roy Freeman, one of the original investigators assigned to the murder case, but he has just been diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s. Inspired by John Keller’s investigation, he decides to try and solve the case once and for all, before he starts losing control of his mind. A trip to the Potosi Correctional Centre in Missouri, several interviews, and some ingenious police work finally lead him to a truth that has been buried for over two decades...or has it?

Stylishly plotted, elegantly written, and packed with thrilling suspense until the final page, The Book of Mirrors is a book within a book like you’ve never read before.