The Book of Mirrors

THE BOOK OF MIRRORS … Between the covers

princetonIt is 1987, and a bitterly cold winter night in New Jersey. In a rambling Queen Anne-style house in West Windsor, a man is found dead, battered to death and lying in a pool of his own blood. The corpse is that of a successful but controversial academic from Princeton, Professor Joseph Wieder. For all his erudition and his insights into the human brain – particularly the workings of memory – he is still very dead. The police dutifully stumble around in the snow, interviewing those who knew the dead man, but they fail to find anyone without a decent alibi, let alone a suspect who stood to gain substantially from his death.

Romanian author Eugen Chirovici takes this unsolved crime as the centrepiece of an intriguing and original crime mystery in which he explores the nature of memory and perception from several different viewpoints. Without getting bogged down in faux psychology, Chirovici takes an almost Proustian look at the events of that winter night in 1987, and he even tips his hat to the great man in the final sentence of the book.

515ty68lplWe first learn of Wieder’s violent demise in a roundabout way. A literary agent, Peter Katz, is working his way through emails from hopeful authors, and consigning most of them to the trash icon, when his attention is grabbed by a submission from a man called Richard Flynn. Katz prints out the sample chapters of Flynn’s book and sits down to read them. He is hooked. Two hours fly past, and Katz realises that he has a possible best seller in his hands, but he is unsure if the book is a true crime confession, or a novel. So, what did Flynn have to say?

Richard Flynn has worked his way up from a decent but unremarkable upbringing in Brooklyn, and is in his third year studying English at Princeton. His new housemate is a young woman called Laura Baines, and he falls under her spell. She introduces him to Professor Wieder, who is her thesis supervisor. Flynn gets a part time job cataloguing Wieder’s extensive book collection. By this time, he and Laura are bedmates, but he is still wondering about the relationship between Laura and Wieder when the older man is brutally murdered.

At this point, Flynn’s manuscript finishes, and Katz seeks out the author, only to find that he has recently died. Determined to get to the bottom of the mystery, Katz employs an out-of-work investigative reporter, John Keller, to do the leg work. Keller takes up the narrative at this point but, as he pans the stream, he finds only Fool’s Gold. What he does manage to do, however, is introduce us to the third witness in the saga – a retired cop called Roy Freeman.

eocThere is a very satisfying sense of a torch being handed from one runner to another, and it is during Freeman’s leg of the journey that we find out the truth of what really happened to Joseph Wieder. Or do we? Changing the metaphor, Chirovici tells us that we have been in one of those fairground attractions which involves walking in front of distorting mirrors. He says;

“They’d all been wrong, and seen nothing but their own obsessions through the windows they’d tried to gaze through, which in fact had been mirrors all along.”

This is a skilful and engaging work which is all the more remarkable for being written in English which, despite his many academic achievements, is not the author’s first language. The style is unfussy and direct; Chirovici makes the different participants in the story totally convincing, and the American scene-setting is faultless. In the acknowledgements section at the end of the novel he thanks many different people who, in his words, “enriched the manuscript and made it shine.” I would offer the simple observation that if the stone had not been precious in the first instance, then no amount of polishing would have made it a diamond.

The Book of Mirrors is published by Century, at £12.99 in hardback, and £7.99 for the Kindle. It will be available in January 2017, and you can pre-order here.

COMPETITION … Win The Book of Mirrors by EO Chirovici


The good people from Penguin Random House made an inspired choice of the venue for last Wednesday evening’s drinks ‘do’ to introduce Romanian author Eugen O Chirovici (pictured above, with Francesca Russell from PRH) and his forthcoming crime mystery The Book of Mirrors.

The Ten Bells in Spitalfields is a pub steeped in criminal – and literary – history. It takes its name from the bells in the tower of the adjacent Christ Church, which in turn featured strongly in Peter Ackroyd’s atmospheric 1985 novel, Hawksmoor. Allegedly, the pub was frequented by the victims of Jack the Ripper, and legend has it that Mary Jane Kelly, who was the subject of the final and bloodiest assault, plied her trade on the pavement outside.
eocSo, in a spookily lit upper room we met the writer, who is not only an award winning economist and has penned best-sellers in his native Romania, but also the author of a stunningly good new novel – the first he has written in English. The book is set partly in the present and partly in 1987, and it tells the story of the murder of a controversial professor of psychology at New Jersey’s Princeton University. His death is observed by different narrators, and Chirovici (left) has constructed an ingenious literary version of the old fairground attraction of distorting mirrors, so that we reach the final pages still not really sure who is giving us the correct image of events on the fateful night.
Not only is Chrirovici a very gifted writer, but he is also a very engaging person to talk to, and my colleague and I spent forty minutes or so with him, dissecting European politics and generally putting the world to rights.
Thanks to Century, we have two copies of The Book of Mirrors – which will not be generally available until January 2017 to give away. Entering couldn’t be simpler. Just email Fully Booked at:

– and write The Book of Mirrors in the subject box. The competition will close at 10.00pm GMT on Sunday 9th October, when the first two names out of the proverbial hat will win the books. Due to postage costs, the competition is open to UK and Irish Republic readers only.


  1. Competition closes 10.00pm London time on Sunday 9th October 2016.
  2. One entry per competitor.
  3. All correct entries will be put in the proverbial hat, and one winner drawn.
  4. The winner will be notified by email, and a postal address requested


ON MY SHELF – Mid September 2016


I realise that the weather has been violently different elsewhere in the UK this week, but here in Cambridgeshire we have had three golden days – and evenings – such as I cannot ever remember, looking back over all my many Septembers. It won’t last, of course, and  the recent arrival of four new crime fiction books reminds me that there are colder and darker days ahead which will be made more bearable by some excellent reading material.

eo-chiroviciThe Book of Mirrors by E O Chirovici looks to be Penguin’s big promotion for the early autumn. There’s an excellent cover with peep-through perforations, and the promo pack includes a very tasty spiral bound notepad/sketchbook. The author, Eugen Ovidu Chirovici, was born in Transylvania, which all fans of the lethal Count Dracula will know is in modern-day Romania. The story? It’s one part literary novel, in that Chirovici examines the nature of memory and recollection; a second part aims to be stylish, and the author openly admires Raymond Chandler and Mario Vargas Llosa for their flawless technique. The third part, perhaps most importantly, is that we have a cracking CriFi story about a cold-case crime and a lost manuscript which contains clues to the identity of a killer.

Buying options for The Book Of Mirrors

kmThe Vanishing Year by Kate Moretti certainly wins title of the month award, as those of us in the UK cling on desperately to every vestige of summer, while preparing ourselves stoically for yet another northern winter of rain, diminishing days, and media hysteria over football results. Moretti’s novel focuses on Zoe Whittaker, a woman whose life has metamorphosed from desperation and danger into one of luxury, love and positive vibes. But the past is never very far away, and when Zoe’s life comes under threat from those she thought had been cast aside, just as a dream dies at the dawn of day, she must make a decision which will either bring salvation – or damnation.

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eagles001Get Lucky by Paul Eagles is one of those confessional ‘Jack The Lad’ stories about someone who has lived his life at the sharp end. It is, I suppose, True Crime, but aficionados of the genre will know that they will need several pinches of salt in order to separate the fact from the fantasy. Basically, Eagles tells his life story thus far. It is as far removed from anything you and I have experienced as is Tennyson from E J Thribb. But, I suppose, there lies the charm. We are invited to gasp and gawp at the goings on, charmed by the fact that we could never, ever have got away with things in the way that Mr Eagles describes.

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catrionaThe Child Garden by Catriona McPherson tells the story of one of those ‘special’ schools set up in the 1970s, when people still believed that Hippy peace and love was a viable and cogent philosophy. Conventional schools were simply prisons for young minds, Bob Dylan reminded us of “the mongrel dogs that teach”, and, just for a nanosecond, in someone’s mind, there seemed to be a way forward. The school in question was called – clearly with the irony meter turned off – ‘Eden’. Inevitably, it folded, with its alumni and teaching staff scattered to the four winds. But a sinister suicide during the school’s heyday returns to haunt former pupils, and they learn that the dead have ingenious ways of speaking to the living.

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