The Secret in Their Eyes by Eduardo Sacheri,  John T. Cullen (Translator)

‘Sometimes life takes strange paths to resolve our enigmas.’

Benjamín Miguel Chaparro was once an administrative clerk who helped coordinate the judicial oversight of criminal cases in Buenos Aires, Argentina.  Now retired, with time on his hands, he sets out to write a book about the decades old murder of a young woman. It’s a case that has obsessed him since the beginning.

To write about the case, Benjamín Chaparro needs to revisit the past: 1970s Buenos Aires, Argentina’s Guerra Sucia (‘Dirty War’), and his own life choices. This novel is part love story, part reflection on justice, and completely engrossing.

The murder case involves Liliana Colotto, a young woman, recently married to Ricardo Augustín Morales.  Ricardo Morales is a bank clerk, totally devoted to his wife.  Her brutal murder, on 30 May 1968, changes his life forever. Benjamín Chaparro, a man whose own relationships seem doomed to fail, recognises that Ricardo Morales’s love for his wife is unremittingly deep.  Benjamín Chaparro is concerned that the judicial system he is part of seems unable to get justice for Ricardo Morales, even though the murderer is (eventually) identified.

There’s so much to like about this story.  From Benjamín Chaparro’s identification of the murderer through a look captured in a photograph, through his working the judicial system to ensure the case is not closed, to an eventual form of justice.  And Benjamín Chaparro, does he find happiness?  I hope so.  It’s an intricate story, with several different components.  I read it in English translation, purely by chance, and am grateful for that serendipitous encounter. Two movies (made in 2009 and 2015) have been based on this novel.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith