Literary agent, Peter Katz receives a partial manuscript from Richard Flynn. The plot revolves around the true life murder of a professor at Princeton University twenty seven years earlier. Not sure if this is a fictional account and not being in receipt of the full manuscript Katz decides to take a closer look at the murder of Professor Joseph Weider and the main suspects. In doing so he is drawn into a tale of jealousy, friendships and research into the human memory and how it functions after trauma. Can we trust our own memories and those of others, or are they false memories to protect us from traumatic events?
The book is narrated in the first person and by three different narrators; Peter Katz, the literary agent, John Keller a journalist enlisted by Katz to look into those involved at the time, and Roy Freeman a retired cop who worked the original case in 1987. All there provide us with different facets of the characters involved and in the timeline of events that led up to Professor Weider’s murder. The first person narrative gives the impression of them giving evidence directly to us the reader, rather like a witness/lawyer in a trial. This is not only about the events that led up to the murder but also about how complex our memories can be. In this we have several different people all with completely different memories of the same evening which leads us to question if we have false memories of a situation and can we trust the memories of others.
There has been much written about this book so I had high expectations. Unfortunately it did not live up to all the hype but it is still a really good read. I do think it is more of a who dunnit than a thriller, but an intelligent and engaging read all the same. I do wonder how much of the original concept, suspense and details were lost in the translation of this book from Romanian to English. I did find the characters intriguing and it was very interesting to see how the three different narrators interacted with them and what views the formed of their personality and their perceived part in the murder.
In conclusion, this is a well written literary thriller that plays games with your mind, a good read.