The history of a cover-up.
Despite the fact that he is a popular and young author, I have not yet read anything by Guillaume Musso before, so that the powerful ability of the author to create atmosphere took me by complete surprise, as he has grasped my attention from the first pages, sucked me into the story and did not let go before he turned me around and made me dizzy several times. He did this while the text is not long, the descriptions do not become too overwhelming, we could say that sentences building up atmosphere are completely minimised, and the essence is summarised in the events outlined in a few lines.
Everything that is important comes from meetings and dialogues, the author drags us into every key scene so that we can experience the events there and then, and then he quickly pulls us out into the present so that we face the consequences. Yes, but then, what makes this novel so special and exciting? Well, the way this all materialises. Were it just a simple crime story, it would be possible for us to speculate within the first third of the text who the murderer is, who is not suspicious, yet, could be connected to the murder.
Thrillers have their own obligatory elements, just like any other literary genres.
What a successful author’s offer can make special and enjoyable today is not rejecting mandatory panels but the presentation of the sequence of events, making the reader think, and even forcing him/her to re-assess each character’s motivation over and over again. The mystery is there right at the very beginning of the story: why does a successful author, who has published three books, all of which are adored by readers and critics alike, retire to a small, secluded island in the Mediterranean?
What compels a man to live his life in solitude for 20 years without writing a single line?
These are serious questions in themselves, and the explanation is much more complicated, much more macabre than we could have anticipated beforehand. The seemingly peaceful inhabitants of the island may not be who they appear to be, and the characters who show up in the meantime may not be merely curious characters connecting two story lines, either, even if they appear to be so at first glance. There are attempts of various kinds to find out the truth behind the story, while the reader is increasingly involved in the detection of gradually unfolding events, while the seemingly viable, logical solution keeps changing from chapter to chapter.
Just when we think we have an answer to the question, and we also know who committed the mysterious murder that has been keeping the island in feverish excitement, Musso throws in yet another detail that compells us to reassess our opinion, and he keeps up this habit to the very last chapter. So The Secret Life of Writers is a terribly exciting mystery-thriller, entertaining and thought-provoking at the same time. It is easy to consume, although, despite the rolling story, it raises serious questions. Why do we create? What makes the writer a writer? Is criticism important? Is someone who condemns himself to solitude actually lonely? Is it possible to rise above the desire for revenge?
Is there forgiveness?
Anyone who is interested in the questions raised and can tolerate psychological stress should definitely read this novel. I don’t regret it. It’s perfect for me now.