Literary agent Peter Katz receives a lot of manuscripts, but one of the latest – an excerpt from The Book of Mirrors by Richard Flynn – captures his attention. Within its pages, Flynn has written about his time at Princeton in the 80s, and his relationship with Professor Joseph Wieder.
Wieder was murdered 25 years ago, and whilst the police identified multiple suspects, no one was ever charged and the case was left unsolved. Is the truth of what happened that evening about to be revealed?
The first part of the novel allows the reader to see the partial manuscript received by Peter Katz, whilst the latter parts follow two separate investigations into what happened that night – investigations initiated by Katz following his reading of the partial manuscript. The Book of Mirrors isn’t a police procedural, however, and the work is done by down-on-his-luck journalist John Keller and retired police officer Roy Freeman. Freeman was involved in Wieder’s case at the time, and sees this as an opportunity to make one last attempt at solving the puzzle.
What follows is an incredibly intriguing murder mystery, in which multiple characters give their version of events and, as the novel progresses, it becomes increasingly less clear as to who murdered Wieder (and why) as each statement contradicts the last. And the structure works brilliantly. By getting to read the manuscript first, the reader is given a version of events from a single perspective, and then has to adjust their view as more information is provided during the subsequent sections.
There are a lot of characters in this novel, some more prominent than others, but it does mean that I didn’t really feel attached to any of them. Even the two investigators – Keller and Freeman – act more as facilitators rather than two characters that the reader really gets to know. Whilst this can sometimes make a novel difficult to get into, I found that in The Book of Mirrors it worked really well, as it allowed me make an impartial judgement as to who was telling the truth and who the murderer could be. I love playing detective, and so I really enjoyed trying to solve this puzzle. And I didn’t work it out. This is a very clever novel with so many twists and turns that will keep you guessing right up to the big reveal.
I read The Book of Mirrors in a single sitting. It’s a brilliant novel that is utterly compelling, and as I was reading, I was reminded of Joël Dicker’s absolutely outstanding The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair, and I think that if you enjoy that kind of novel then you’ll enjoy this.
The Book of Mirrors will be published on 26 January 2017 – many thanks to Francesca Russell for the ARC.