Forget about it.
Chirovici’s (Gods, Weapons and Money: The Puzzle of Power, 2014, etc.) elegant murder mystery hinges on the unreliability of memory. When literary agent Peter Katz receives a partial manuscript detailing the events surrounding the brutal unsolved killing of a famous psychology professor some 27 years earlier, he becomes intrigued, smelling true-crime blockbuster potential: the murdered psychologist was known for his work exploring the effects of trauma on memory and was secretly working for a government agency; a brilliant, driven young woman working with the professor lies and manipulates with chilling ease; and sexual jealousy and long-harbored resentments manifest in terrible, unpredictable ways. Unfortunately, the author, a failed writer by the name of Richard Flynn, dies before he can be questioned, and the remainder of his manuscript proves elusive. Katz begins an investigation, pulling cynical investigative journalist John Keller into the fray and inspiring the murder’s original investigator, retired police detective Roy Freeman, to finally close the case. But tracking down the other players in the incident leads only to confusing, contradictory testimony. Worse yet, a key suspect suffers from retrograde amnesia, and Freeman himself is suffering through the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease. Chirovici deftly develops his theme by alternating points of view, juxtaposing excerpts from Flynn’s manuscript with the current-day observations of Katz, Keller, and Freeman, gradually assembling the true narrative, mosaiclike, from the disparate strands. The story lacks urgency—the crime in question is decades old—but it nonetheless compels attention, as Chirovici draws his characters well and tantalizes the reader with judiciously timed revelations.
A smart, sophisticated murder puzzle sure to please the more literary-minded aficionados of the form.