A writer becomes the reluctant arbiter in a real-life game of mortal combat.
When the unnamed narrator gets a distress call from Luciana, whom he hasn’t heard from in a decade, he rushes to her side. Ten years ago, after a wrist accident had left him temporarily unable to write, his editor Campari had hired typist Luciana to help him complete a book. He’d become enamored of Luciana—although he never acted on his attraction—and intrigued by the fact that she worked for an intimidating literary lion named Kloster. The beauty who captivated him back then is barely recognizable in the bland and lumpy Luciana of today, who tells a compelling if slightly outrageous story, beginning with her accusations of sexual harassment against Kloster. After his unwilling divorce, the Machiavellian Kloster was determined to destroy her life, murdering everyone around her. He began with her boyfriend Ramiro, who unaccountably fell ill at a seaside resort, then moved on to other family members. No evidence implicates Kloster, but Luciana, certain of his guilt, convinces the writer to visit Kloster and get the truth. He anticipates hearing a different story from Kloster, but he’s surprised at how different and how convincing the great man’s account is, and utterly blindsided by Kloster’s next move.
Martínez (The Oxford Murders, 2005, etc.) crafts a page-turner in which eminently believable obsession and paranoia drive dangerous behavior.