The Book of Mirrors by E.O. Chirovici (2 out of 5)
What the fuck did I just read? I still have no idea almost a day after I finished it. It started out promisingly enough, and I was hooked until about halfway through. The premise is a good hook. A man named Richard Flynn sends a manuscript into a publisher, about a secretive, enigmatic professor named Joseph Wieder. Richard’s narrative is the first part in the book. At Princeton in 1987, he tells of meeting and falling into an unspecified relationship with Laura Baines, a highly intelligent but emotionally distant assistant to the professor, who is working on a secretive manuscript. Richard is introduced to the professor by Laura, and immediately suspects the relationship between the two to be more than it appears. Richard puts his reservations into HIS manuscript, and forms a strange friendship with the Prof. When I say strange, I mean absolutely fucking strange. I would not go and have my intelligence insulted by someone who drinks more than Sam Kinison did, but that’s just me. Everything goes south between Richard and Laura when she tells him her ex is still stalking her and she needs space. Shortly after this, the Prof is brutally murdered. Flash forward to the next narrator- literary agent Peter Katz. He’s on the receiving end of Richard Flynn’s manuscript, talking about trying to uncover the Professor’s murder. He tries to contact Flynn, only to find out he has just passed away from complications from lung cancer. Flynn’s wife claims to know nothing, so Katz goes on what amounts to a wild goose chase, in pursuit of Laura Baines. The cold-hearted witch meets with him and denies Flynn’s written version of things, accusing him of being a psycho hose beast. Then she threatens to sue the pants off Katz if he publishes it with her in it. Katz’s search turns up the handyman who found Wieder’s body, and Katz tries, to no avail, to uncover more of the mystery, but growing more frustrated and shut down as the book goes along. This poor guy must have needed many college-lined notebooks to get through this muck. An old retired policeman comes into the book, as the third person to tell the story. Joe Keller is an old aquaintance of Katz’s and calls to tell him that a death row inmate up for execution very soon has confessed to Wieder’s murder (at this point, 25 years has gone by). Katz flies out to meet up with Keller, and they meet with the inmate, who has some very interesting details to share with them. Katz and Kellermake some connections, and Katz flies back while Keller decides to try to close the case once and for all. And he does…But what a convoluted, murky mess. Including several characters who were obviously thrown in to spice up an otherwise dull as dirt story. Did I mention a lot of this was an attempt to recover the Professor’s manuscript that vanished after his death? Yes. That’s THREE manuscripts the reader has to keep track of. And it gets old fast. The resolution, in my opinion, was wretched and those who died apparently did so in vain. All I can say is the entire book was the worst game of literary Tetris that I’ve had the misfortune of picking up. The book is out and available in hardcover, brought to us by the folks at Atria Books. Seriously, a frustrating merry-go-round round, minus the merry. Avoid at all costs.