The Secret in Their Eyes
I love a great book written by a South American. I don’t know what it is about South American literature, but I have been in love with it since getting my hands on my first Isabel Allende book. While not a particularly drama-prone person myself, I find myself sucked into these Latin worlds of romance, drama, supernatural occurrences and loss. While no one speaks of actual spectres in The Secret in Their Eyes, there are certainly ghosts that linger in the minds of the characters. Ghosts of love ones lost, ghosts of hated ones lost, all informing the actions of our protagonist.
Eduardo Sacheri anchors his tale in present-day Buenos Aires with trips back to the 1970’s via the lead character’s memory as he writes his book about the rape and murder of a young, married woman – a case he dealt with many years ago when he worked as a clerk for the Buenos Aires court. For reasons he will explore and explain as he writes his novel, he finds himself especially drawn to this case when it arrives on his desk. He meets the grief-stricken husband and feels compelled to go above and beyond for him, to bring him peace. Concurrently, he battles his intense feelings for Irene Hornos: a woman he loves almost at first sight and for whom he will carry a thiry-year torch.
Touching on Argentina’s dirty war, Sacheri weaves together a story that touches the heart without stomping on it. You sympathize with Benjamin but fall short of pitying or resenting him. He is an ordinary man faced with extraordinary circumstances. He behaves as you feel you would, lending the necessary air of credibility to the surreal situation. Other characters, too, behave as you might expect. While the author does a good job of creating likable, realistic protagonists and antagonists, I thought the twists were too predictable. There are set ups that one can spot ahead of their reveals. Had they not been fashioned as surprises, I think the reveals would have been more successful. It was clear Sacheri was looking for a “beat” in the book and while that was achieved, I think it loses some of its power as it seemed too obvious.
Overall, I did enjoy The Secret in Their Eyes. It was a relatively quick read with characters that, for the most part, felt three-dimensional and relatable. It could very easily have been an excruciatingly dark book but Sacheri has a deft hand at finding lighter moments. I will look forward to seeing what literary projects will arrive next!