The Secret in Their Eyes by Eduardo Sacheri (thoughts)
Argentina’s one of those countries that I very much want to visit but somehow don’t read much about, so when I saw The Secret in Their Eyes by Eduardo Sacheri on Netgalley, I decided to request it. It’s a thriller set in the 1970s, which means Argentina’s Dirty War forms its backdrop. As an international relations nerd, I was curious to see how the politics interacted with the main storyline, which is a plot that begins with the (in my view, rather tired) device of a beautiful young woman found raped and murdered.
The novel is divided into two storylines, actually, which allows Sacheri to increase the suspense. The first follows Chaparro, a detective who has just retired and finds himself at a loss as to how to spend his days. Then, he decides to write a book about a case that still haunts him: this becomes the second storyline, with the victim I already mentioned. The two parts are written in a completely different style; one of the styles really appealed to me while the other drove me insane. Obviously, Sacheri chose it for a reason, but I’m not sure what. Fortunately, the narratives switch back and forth often enough that I never gave up on it!
Over all, I found myself turning the pages almost against my will…I could probably give you a list of cliches all to be found within the pages, but somehow it still worked. This is one of the books I end up rating as three stars because “some aspects were marvelous but others were awful,” so they kind of balance each other out. ;) I’d definitely recommend this to a certain type of reader. It’s got a bit of a noir feel to it, and I think those who enjoy thrillers or slightly grittier crime novels will have fun here. Also, readers who prioritise plot over characters or writing style will definitely enjoy it: Sacheri knows how to keep things interesting. That being said, while it worked for the mood I was in when I read it, I can’t see myself seeking out more of his books in the future. I like the modern fiction I read to be a bit more inventive or playful or challenging in its plotting or characterisations or themes, and I prefer a more lush prose style. Of course, as a genre reader, I am always excited to see international genre books, so I’m glad I gave this a try! (And I will be seeking out the award-winning movie adaptation: I think the more detailed sense of place a film automatically provides would strengthen the whole story for me.)