What would you do if you answered the phone and heard a voice
from deep in your past, shaky and panicked and begging for your
“… ‘it is a matter of life and
death…Nobody knows. Nobody realizes’...Even
more quietly, as if she could hardly bring herself to say the name,
she whispered: ‘It’s about Kloster.’”
Kloster, the author who every other writer envies. No, more than
envies --- aspires to be. There is so much jealousy that it borders
on hatred. No other writer in Argentina even comes close to
Kloster’s talent. He is in a class of his own. Even more
frustrating is the fact that he shuns publicity. He is as big a
mystery as the stories he writes. How could he be responsible for
the fear in her voice?
Ten years ago, Kloster hired a pretty young assistant named
Luciana to take dictation. She proved to be perfect in many ways.
When it came time for Kloster to leave for a month-long retreat, he
went with great reluctance, unhappy that he could not take Luciana
with him. The assistant, still needing the income, found a
temporary job with another writer. It all seemed to be a perfectly
innocent set of circumstances. But two of the three players were
men with good-sized egos and vivid imaginations, as writers of
fiction can be, and the third was this lovely woman with no designs
on either one of them.
Now, a decade later, Kloster is as popular as ever, the other
writer is still struggling but has achieved some success, and
Luciana is older, less beautiful and desperate. She clearly is
haunted and turns to the writer for help. When he hears her voice
on the telephone, he remembers with fondness the graceful neck and
the youthful body, and allows himself to dream a little. Could
there be something between them after all? But confronted by the
reality of Luciana’s thickened waist, her developing double
chin and an irrational, consuming fear, he shrinks from her, almost
wishing he had never answered her call.
And who can blame him? Her story is beyond fantastic. She claims
that, after Kloster returned from his month away 10 years ago,
their professional relationship took a bad turn. He misinterpreted
some of her comments and mannerisms; she recoiled, horrified by his
unwanted advances, and it started a series of events that led to
the dissolution of Kloster’s marriage and the death of his
daughter. And he blames Luciana! She knows this because she has
lost several loved ones in the intervening years, and the manner of
their deaths is suspiciously similar to the ones dictated to her
back when she worked for Kloster. He is taking his revenge --- very
slowly and methodically.
The writer doesn’t know whether or not to believe her, but
feels a sense of obligation to at least make rudimentary inquiries.
His efforts are clumsy and somewhat naïve. After all, he is a
writer, not a detective. The only idea he can come up with is to
confront Kloster directly. If anything, his questions seem to amuse
the great author, who gives answers so wonderfully logical that the
young writer starts to feel a bit foolish. More back-and-forth with
Luciana, and he still remains perplexed.
Finally, just as he believes he has seen the truth of the
matter, he finds out how utterly fantastic Kloster is at writing
endings. “…I never contemplated, never
glimpsed the other, yet more terrible, possibility that
Creepy and eerie, the suspense mounts relentlessly, giving
neither the reader nor Luciana a chance to breathe. Guillermo
Martinez builds a terrifying tale of murder and revenge. But wait.
Is it murder? Or revenge? Read THE BOOK OF MURDER to find out. This
is a little book that packs a big punch. And a big surprise.
Reviewed by Kate Ayers on January 7, 2011