I am a bit of a film buff and I’ve been meaning to see The Secret in Their Eyes ever since it came out. It was available on Netflix Streaming, I put it in my queue… and then the day I went to watch it it was gone. I was very sad. I’d heard great things about the film. Plus it stars Ricardo Darín, who I really liked in 2 other Argentinian films, The Aura and Nine Queens. (The former is a classic heist gone wrong and the latter is one of the best con films I’ve ever seen.)
But turns out, it’s based on a book. It’s not surprising I didn’t know, since the book is also from Argentina and hasn’t been released in the US. But it’s out this October 18 in an English translation and if you haven’t seen the movie yet, consider yourself lucky. Because don’t us book folks ALWAYS want to read the book first?
Whether you’ve heard of the movie or not (the 2010 Best Foreign Language Film Oscar winner) I’d definitely recommend picking up the book. We don’t read enough foreign writers in the US, and most of the ones we get are from Europe. Plus you get a little bit of Argentinian history, since it’s set between the 60’s and the 90’s, including the military upheaval of the 70’s.
I’d also recommend it because it has something for everyone. The writing style is strong and steady and makes you want to keep reading. The story has a mix of crime and personal stories.
We actually have two stories. The first is about Benjamin Chaparro, a court clerk who has just retired and decides he’s going to write a novel about the one case he can never forget. We go back and forth between Chaparro himself–his struggles to write, and his decisions about what to do with himself and his decades-long love for a married Judge–and the story Chaparro wants to tell, of the murder of a young wife that he becomes personally invested and involved in for 30 years.
Along the way he encounters Baez, a smart and world-weary detective who handles the case; Morales, the widowed husband; and Romano, Chaparro’s sadistic co-worker. The story takes twists and turns you don’t quite expect. Everything will stop for years and then suddenly return. And getting Chaparro’s present-day view on his past gives you a look into his solitary life. Perhaps that is what so many of the characters have in common: their voluntary solitude and sadness.
Still, it’s not a sad book. Nor is it overtly violent or disturbing. It’s the kind of book that a literature lover can read and then pass along to their mystery-loving best friend. I’ll be recommending it to my Mom and my Father-in-Law and anyone else looking for a good book.