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THE CASE OF LISANDRA P
by Hélène Grémillon and Alison Anderson, trans.
Penguin, January 2016
292 pages
$16.00
ISBN: 014312658X


Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Set amidst the turbulent years of the Argentinian dictatorship of the 1980s, when thousands of the country's young people went missing, is this mystery about the death of the wife of a Buenos Aires psychoanalyst. Pushed -- or did she jump? -- from their apartment window, the husband soon becomes the prime suspect in the murder investigation.

Jailed, he is unable to exonerate himself, but one of his patients, Eva Maria, seeks to help find evidence of the doctor's innocence. This leads her to tape recordings of his patient sessions, where people reveal their innermost secrets and often a potential motive for the crime.

As Eva Maria gets more and more involved in her own research into the couple, she also confronts some ugly secrets about the couple. Her own situation, desperation over her missing daughter, also comes to the fore as she learns that at least one of the psychoanalyst's clients was a member of the murderous junta. However, the strain in Eva Maria's own life makes all of her findings questionable: Just what has she uncovered, and just what has she imagined?

What Eva Maria discovers about the doctor and his wife -- their jealousies and infidelity -- slowly become evident by the end of the case. By then, however, the police have begun focusing on Eva Maria herself as the perpetrator. While readers may think they have anticipated the ending, there's at least one more surprise coming.

Beautifully written, the translation work flows smoothly, but its subject matter can often be disturbing while still thought-provoking.

§ Christine Zibas is a freelance writer and former director of publications for a Chicago nonprofit.

Reviewed by Christine Zibas, January 2016

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