Sometimes there are stories that draw you in. Perhaps a friend tells you a tale over coffee, about a friend of a friend whose husband went to prison for murdering his secret lover. The shock you feel for the wife, the betrayal. You imagine how it would feel yourself to discover than not only is your husband unfaithful, he’s also a murderer. It’s not your story, but you are drawn to it. You find yourself Facebook stalking this poor woman whom you have never met, you’ve only heard of her. But in seeing her profile picture, staring into her smiling eyes as she poses with her children, you feel like you know her. But what if he didn’t do it? What if he was framed? You dig deeper and deeper becoming a piece in this puzzle. Somehow you’ve become part of the story. When viewed on macro, the story encompasses you too.
The Book of Mirrors is one such tale.
It begins with literary agent Peter Katz receives a query letter from a yet unpublished author, he assumes it will be like the many others on his slush pile. Still he reads on. The letter, from Richard Flynn, explains that the first three chapters of the manuscript he has submitted, will shed light on an unsolved murder that took place 27 years ago while he was studying English at Princeton.
Intrigued, Katz reads on, and we read along with him.
At first Richard’s tale reads like a shallow memoir. A very long blog post about life at Princeton, living in shared house with a fellow student by the name of Laura. It takes a while to feel that there is a point to this tale, but dutifully I (and Katz) read on. That’s when strange things being to happen.
Laura introduces Richard to Professor Wieder. An idolised celebrity in his field of psychology. Wieder is eccentric yet somewhat reclusive. He is intrigued by others and enjoys digging into their minds. But what exactly is the relationship between Laura and the Professor? Lies are told and misconstrued. The truth is murky, mussed with alcohol and the shadows of old memories. Is Laura lying? Or is Richard? Or has he simply remembered things wrong?
Just a Richard’s memoir is beginning to take shape, the sample chapters are over. Katz and I are stumped. What happened next? We need to know.
As Katz sets off on his search for Richard and the rest of his manuscript, the story continues. Others are dragged into the tale, themselves becoming part of it.
While The Book of Mirrors draws you in with its story told through the eyes and voices of many, at times it loses momentum during the switch. As one perspective builds in intrigue then suddenly comes to an end, it leaves the reader feeling underwhelmed and unsatisfied. Itching to understand.
Once the story grips you, it feels as though you’ve entered a house of mirrors and glimpsed a prized jewel, reflected in one of the many mirrored walls. But where is it? Every time you think you’ve found it, it turns out to be merely a reflection of the actual jewel. Still you fight on. You must find it. You simply must. But by the time you get to it and take it in your hands, you feel disappointment wash over you. After seeing so many images of the same jewel reflected back at you for so long, it seems to have lost some of its chutzpah. And, it’s much smaller in real life and nowhere near as shiny.
Despite all of this. It’s still a jewel you’re holding in your hands.
The Book of Mirrors is a suspense filled thriller by E.O Chirovici. It’s a clever exploration of memory, how unintentionally our memories can become skewed overtime, taking on their own forms. One man’s truth can be another man’s lie.
The Book of Mirrors
RRP - NZ$37.00