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De zaak Morales by Eduardo Sacheri
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De zaak Morales (edition 2011)

by Eduardo Sacheri (Author), Tanja Timmerman (Translator)

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1167104,032 (4.15)4
Member:Variata
Title:De zaak Morales
Authors:Eduardo Sacheri (Author)
Other authors:Tanja Timmerman (Translator)
Info:Uithoorn: Karakter, cop. 2011
Collections:Your library
Rating:***1/2
Tags:thriller

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The Secret in Their Eyes by Eduardo Sacheri

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English (6)  Spanish (1)  All languages (7)
Showing 1-5 of 6 (next | show all)
I have read this novel for the 2013 Global Reading Challenge, and, to be quite honest, didn't find the first 100 pages very easy going at all. The structure of the book took some getting used to.

Benjamin Chaparro, a recently retired court investigator, decides to fill his days with writing a book about the case which has most affected his working life. The case is the murder/rape in Buenos Aires of Liliana Colotto, the young wife of Ricardo Agustin Morales in May 1968.

It is well over three decades later when Chaparro retires and begins to write his book on a borrowed typewriter. As the story unfolds we learn not only how this case has stayed with him for all those years, how he has intermittently been in touch with the widowed husband, but also how in fact it impacted his whole working life.

The structure of THE SECRET IN THEIR EYES allows us to read the book that Chaparro is writing as he writes it, while he occasionally jumps out of writing mode, into present time, becoming part of the narrative that surrounds the writing of the book. As we enter the final 100 pages of the book, the author makes us surmise what the conclusion might be. The ending is stranger than I could ever have guessed.

So this is a book in which I changed my mind from tolerance to admiration for the cleverness of the plot. The plot takes place in part during Argentina's Dirty War (1976-1983), during which as many as 30,000 people disappeared. While this doesn't seem to directly impact on the plot, it does help to explain why a case might take so long to be resolved, if ever, and how stretched the forces of justice could be. My impression in reading the first 100 or so pages was of a literary style which softened as the plot progressed. ( )
  smik | Sep 12, 2013 |
I enjoyed reading this book very much. I especially thought the language was very thoughful and poetic, it just slid off the toungue as I read it aloud. It makes me wonder what was lost (or gained) in translation. The story had a fair amount of suspense, romance, drama and it definietely left me eager for more. I did think that there were some loose ends that I would have liked to have seen tied up. Also, there was a ton of opportunity for some action in the story but it went a little safe and left me feeling a touch unsatisfied. But I did like the book overall and can't wait to see the film next. ( )
  ColieCakes | Feb 27, 2013 |
Here's an example of a book that I wouldn't have picked up otherwise except for the movie adaptation of it, a relatively rare breed. The film, which won Best Foreign Language Film a couple of years back, was masterfully plotted and acted, and brought a real sense of period and style to the darker history of Argentina during the late 1960s through the mid-70s, and then onwards through some changes to the present. If the movie was doing this, and I find books generally usually better and richer than the films they are made into, then surely the book would be a masterpiece of tense historical fiction, I thought.

Alas, this appears to be one of those rare situations in which the book is inferior. The plot is generally the same - an investigative court clerk, whose position changes some over the course of the story, is called in to investigate the rape and murder of a young woman in her home. The mystery of finding the murderer itself is an elusive one, as the culprit was a clever, careful fellow, but the larger story comes from the interplay of how the politics of Argentina at the time deals with the justice system, and how different people react to that problem. It's hard to find the right kind of justice when the government, and its petty, grudge-bearing officials, can step in and make things as they wish it, and that leads to frustrations of different sorts, dependent on how invested you are in doing the right thing and finding justice.

So the characters are still interesting in their viewpoints, and the frame story of Benjamin Chaparro, the lead character, writing the novel for something to do after he retires, and to impress the woman that he's had a crush on forever, is a nice enough one. Benjamin's first-person narration is strong, and you get a real sense of his voice. The other characters, including Benjamin's sidekick Pablo Sandoval (not the Giant slugger; this was written before that), a drunk that goes on epic benders but has a strong investigative mind, and Ricardo Morales, the widower of the murdered woman, and a very thorough, methodical man himself, are pretty vividly painted. It's not a bad book, by any means.

It just suffers from comparison to the film, I suppose. Sacheri was involved in the script for the movie, as well, so maybe he took the opportunity to fix things up. And there are pretty big things to fix; Irene, Benjamin's love interest, is far more included in the story in the film version, the plot seems tighter and less given to coincidence, there are greater sacrifices, and the ending is stronger. The plot follows the same general course, but you won't get everything about the book from having seen the movie. It's a somewhat different, if lesser, experience.

On the whole, I don't really feel bad for having read it, but it was somewhat of a disappointment. I wouldn't go run out and track it down, but you could do worse. ( )
  Capfox | Apr 19, 2012 |
Retiring after 31 yrs as a clerk for the investigating judicial system in Argentina, Benjamin Chaparro decides to write about a case that has haunted him for many years. Written in a straightforward manner, very little emotion, the reader travels with Benjamin back to his early days in the dept., through Argentina's dirty war in the 70's, and the investigation into this case. Loved the characters of Sandoval, who is a very smart investigator with a major problem, and Chaparro, as well as the judge who I think is wiser than Benjamin gives her credit for. Twist near the end that I didn't seem coming, so although this book is written in a straightforward manner the plot is anything but. ( )
  Beamis12 | Dec 9, 2011 |
Last week I got so excited about a fantasy series that I stayed up way too late to finish 3 books in a little over a week. By the time I finally remembered about the tendency of time to keep going no matter how engrossed we are in a story it was Sunday and I was nowhere near ready to write the review for The Secret In Their Eyes, especially since I had mixed feelings about the book. The mixed feelings persisted until the very end and in a way I feel like I've read two different books about the same characters. One is set in the present day and tells about a retired court employee struggling with writing a book and with his love for a woman he believes is out of his reach. The other is the actual book Chaparro is writing and it is set in the 60s and tells about Chaparro's investigation into the rape and murder of a young woman and how it ties people together for decades and affects the course of their lives. The past and present alternated and I really enjoyed the "past" parts. The voice was direct and strong, although not invulnerable, the events unfolded at a good pace and I really liked the characters, sympathized with them and hoped they would succeed. The present was more difficult. Half the time it read like a stream-of-consciousness rant about how much Chaparro is in love with Irene and how he can't live without thinking about her all the time. These parts were much less enjoyable, to me they were in the way of the real story and it was tiring reading about Benjamin's lovesickness over and over, how he couldn't sleep for days after every meeting with Irene, remembering the way she smiled and looked at him and smelled. It was more like reading about a teenager living through his first crush than about a 60-year-old man and whenever these chapters started I wished the author would go back to telling us about the investigation.
If someone asked me to quickly name one thing that sets the writing of this book apart from the others I've read this year I'd say it's the vocabulary. There were more SAT words in this one novel than I recall seeing in all the rest of them combined and the best part is that it felt natural, like that's just the way the author talks and it was thrilling to read a book where words you don't see every day, let alone use, don't feel forced. The sentence structure and the way the sentences fit together was unusual, I'm just not sure whether that's because the novel is translated or that's the way it was meant to be. It took some getting used to but eventually it became charming in a way and I almost stopped noticing it.
Reading The Secrets In Their Eyes made me think about justice. There are so many crime TV shows these days and at the end of almost every episode the guilty get what they deserve but here things aren't so simple and I keep thinking about how more often than not the scum of the earth keep going, adding one wrongdoing after another to the scorecard they feel no remorse about while the honest and the righteous suffer at their hands, make sacrifices to ensure that the guilty get punished and even then there are no guarantees that it'll actually happen. I guess that's the reason we have the superheroes and the TV shows - we want justice to prevail and for the good guys to come out on top. And here they do. Eventually.

My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

P. S. In 2010 a movie by the same name won an Oscar as the best foreign film and in case you've seen it and are wondering whether it would spoil the story for you I can say that both yes and no. The general direction of the plot is the same but the film-makers took quite a few liberties with the story so regardless of whether you watch the movie after reading the book or the other way around there are still plenty of surprises. ( )
  bolgai | Sep 27, 2011 |
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Benjamín Chaparro is a retired detective still obsessed by the brutal, decades-old rape and murder of a young married woman in her own bedroom. While attempting to write a book about the case, he revisits the details of the investigation. As he reaches into the past, Chaparro also recalls the beginning of his long, unrequited love for Irene Hornos, then just an intern, now a respected judge.… (more)

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