Readers Guide to The Book of Murder

Translated by Sonia Soto

An Introduction
In the world of Argentinean literature, Kloster stands alone. He is a master storyteller whose oeuvre is revered by critics and the public alike. In his hands, mundane detective stories are transformed into psychologically penetrating and intricately wrought works of literature. His talents have won him wealth, celebrity, and the resentment of his fellow writers. So when a woman approaches one of Kloster’s lesser rivals and begs him to save her from the author’s vengeance, the other man must look beyond his jealousy and determine whether the literary titan is as adept with evil in real life as he is on the page. 

As Guillermo Martinez’s The Book of Murder opens, the book’s unnamed narrator is a moderately successful Argentinean novelist living quietly in Buenos Aries. He supplements his income with the occasional odd job teaching or writing reviews, but he is far from achieving the kind of success that Kloster enjoys. His only link to the man is Luciana, a young typist whom they both employed many years before, and it is she who brings the narrator her astonishing tale of persecution and woe.

Young, beautiful, and extremely talented at her job, Luciana was invaluable to Kloster. When he was away on retreat, she accepted a temporary position with the narrator. An underlying current of sexuality charged their working relationship—or so he thought—but his attentions were rebuffed and he has not seen her for ten years. When they meet again, she is a changed woman—haggard beyond her years and fearful to the point of paranoia.

In the intervening time, Luciana’s boyfriend, both her parents, and her brother have died in a series of violent accidents. A drowning, a poisoning, and murder at the hands of a crazed robber—each death occurred under unlikely but just-plausible-enough circumstances. The authorities think she’s a madwoman, but Luciana is convinced that Kloster masterminded the killings. Not long after her stint with the narrator, Luciana sued Kloster for sexual harassment and unwittingly set in motion a chain of events that resulted in the death of his beloved daughter. Now, she believes that Kloster is pursuing revenge and will only be satisfied once he has also killed her grandmother, sister, and finally Luciana herself.

The narrator is incredulous, but Kloster’s novels are characterized by crimes uncannily similar to those Luciana describes. Even before hearing her story, he’d “concluded simply that behind the desk there must be an obsessive, magnificently sick mind with the power of life and death, a barely restrained megalomaniac” (p. 6). The narrator is intrigued by Luciana’s accusations and—feeling an obligation to the woman with whom he’d once been infatuated—he agrees to help her. As another death is added to the chain, he uncovers evidence that radically alters his understanding of Luciana, Kloster, and ultimately reality itself.

Fans of literary mysteries will delight in this chilling and utterly original new work. A riveting follow-up to The Oxford Murders, The Book of Murder explores the dark confluence between the ruthless machinations of chance and the sinister power of words.

About the Author
Guillermo Martínez is an Argentinean novelist and short story writer. He has a Ph.D. in mathematical logic from the University of Buenos Aires, where he currently teaches. In 2003 he was awarded the Planeta Prize for The Oxford Murders, which has been translated into a number of languages and is being made into a feature film. The Book of Murder is his second book to be translated into English.

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