The Book of Murder - By Guillermo Martinez & Sonia Soto

Guillermo Martinez

The Book of Murder


The narrator is an up-and-coming young writer who has little in common with Kloster—a literary giant whose disturbing crime novels dominate the bestseller lists. However, they have both, at one time, employed the secretarial services of the alluring Luciana B. Out of the past, Luciana makes a desperate plea to the young writer. She thinks that Kloster is slowly killing off everyone close to her—can he help before her grandmother and younger sister are murdered?

While the narrator suspects her misfortunes have driven her mad, Kloster has a powerful motive; and eerie parallels surface between the murders in Kloster’s books and the real-life deaths surrounding Luciana. As the body count multiplies, the question arises: Can words really kill? Fans of both Alfred Hitchcock and Carlos Ruiz Zafón will be thrilled with Martínez’s literary murder mystery.


The telephone rang one Sunday morning, tearing me from the sleep of the dead. When I answered, a voice simply said Luciana, in a weak, anxious whisper, as if it were all I’d need to remember her. Disconcerted, I echoed the name, and she added her surname, which roused a distant memory. Then, in an anguished tone, she reminded me who she was: Luciana B, the girl who took dictation. Of course I remembered. Had it really been ten years? Yes, almost ten, she confirmed. She was glad I still lived in the same flat. But she didn’t sound at all glad. She paused. Could she see me? She had to see me, she corrected herself, the desperation in her voice removing any possible delusions on my part.

“Yes, of course,” I said, slightly alarmed. “When?”

“Whenever you can, as soon as possible.” I looked round doubtfully at my untidy flat, testament to the indolent forces of entropy, and glanced at the clock on the bedside table. “If it’s a matter of life and death,” I said, “what about this afternoon, here, say at four?”

There was a hoarse sound at the other end of the line and a faltering breath, as if she were trying to hold back a sob. “I’m sorry,” she mumbled, embarrassed. “Yes, it is a matter of life and death. You really don’t know, do you? Nobody knows. Nobody realises.” I thought she was about to cry again. There was a silence, during which she struggled to regain her composure. Even more quietly, as if she could hardly bring herself to say the name, she whispered: “It’s about Kloster.” And before I could ask any questions, as if afraid I might change my mind, she said: “I’ll be there at four.”

Ten years earlier, I had broken my right wrist in a stupid accident and had gone about with my hand, to the tips of my fingers, held in the rigid grip of a plaster cast. At the time, I was due to deliver my second novel to the publisher but all I had was a draft in my impossible handwriting—two thick spiral notebooks riddled with deletions, arrows and corrections that no one but me could decipher. After thinking it over for a few moments, my editor, Campari, came up with the solution: he knew that Kloster had for some time now been using a typist—a girl, very young and apparently so perfect in every way that she had become one of his most prized possessions.

“So why would he lend her to me?” I asked, afraid to believe my luck. Kloster’s name, plucked from on high and dropped so casually by Campari, had impressed me a little despite myself. We were in Campari’s office and a framed copy of the dust jacket of Kloster’s first novel that hung on the wall—the editor’s only concession to decoration—created a resonance that was hard to ignore.

“I’m sure he wouldn’t want to. But Kloster’s out of the country till the end of the month. He’s at one of those writers’ retreats where he shuts himself away to polish his novels before publication. He hasn’t taken his wife with him, so by extension,” he said with a wink, “I shouldn’t think his wife has let him take his secretary.”

There and then he called Kloster’s home, offered effusive greetings to someone who was evidently the wife, listened with resignation to what must have been a list of complaints, waited patiently for her to find the name in the address book, and at last jotted down a number on a slip of paper.

“The girl’s called Luciana,” he said. “But be careful. You know Kloster’s the jewel in our crown—you’ve got