Tuesday, April 28, 2015

THE PARIS ENIGMA by Pablo de Santis

THE PARIS ENIGMA started off by narrating the back story of Sigmund Salvatrio, a cobbler’s son, who has a great fascination with the renowned detectives and their solved crimes. Purposely, he joined the Buenos Aires Academy opened by Renato Craig, co-founder of The Twelve Detectives (the group of the world’s best private investigators).  When Craig’s best student was killed, both the academy and Craig’s health took a spiral dive.

…during the day we worship syllogisms, but the night belongs to the metaphor.

Only a few days are counting before the grand opening of the Paris World Fair and Eiffel’s Tower in 1889 when Craig sent Salvatrio in his stead.  Upon arrival, Salvatrio was instructed to confidentially give Viktor Arzaky (Craig’s co-founder of The Twelve Detectives) two things. The first one is Craig’s multi-purpose cane, to be showcased as part of the fair; and second is the true details behind Craig’s last solved case.

Gentlemen, though we want to live in glass bubbles, to use pure reason, to interrogate witnesses without ever being interrogated, we are always surrounded by questions, and we answer them –subconsciously, through our actions. Through our investigative methods, we show who we are. It is us and not the poets, who aspire to live in ivory towers, but time and time again we come down to earth, and we reveal, without realizing, our worst secrets.

At first, the Twelve Detectives were cajoled, but when he finally reached the end of his patience  Arzaky mandated them to share tools of their trade to showcase for the fair. Apart from that, they are to congregate and share truth-seeking insights about enigmas. Until real detecting called Arzaky to investigate the murder of one of their colleagues.

But detectives are like artists. In the life of every actor, musician, singer, or writer there is always a moment when they begin to play the role of themselves, and everything that they do in the present is merely a ceremony with which they evoke something from their past. And life becomes, for the artist of the detective, the incessant fine-tuning of their own legend.

The Paris Enigma has a surreal feel to it.  This is not a clear-cut detective story,  not a detective story in the typical sense, more like the art of detection. Every now and then, I was knocked by some thoughtful quote, which I find very intriguing that those have wormed into this genre. This is filled with a digression, too, whenever the detectives share their past cases and theoretical way of looking at enigmas.  And I had some few snooze time while reading, but it’s a decent read with good, flowing translation.

Book details:
Title:  The Paris Enigma
Author:  Pablo de Santis
Publication: 2008, Harper
Genre:  Fiction, Mystery
Rating:  ★★★


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