Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Where There's Love, There's Hate: Review

Where There's Love, There's Hate by Adolfo Bioy Casares and Silvina Ocampo, literary luminaries from Argentina (and, incidentally, husband and wife), was first published in 1946. It was translated into English for the first time in 2013. Casares and Ocampo managed to produce an interesting mystery in the "British country house" style that is a clever murder mystery, a witty parody of those same Golden Age novels, and a highly literary piece of fiction all rolled into one. Suzanne Jill Levine and Jessica Ernst Powell have done an excellent job of translation with just a few minor passages having a slightly off-kilter feel.

Dr. Humberto Huberman, physician, writer, and inveterate busybody, has gone to the Hotel Central at seaside Bosque de Mar for a literary vacation. He is in search of a quiet place to work on his adaptation of Petronius. But instead of peace and quiet, he finds himself in the middle of murder. A pretty, young translator named Mary is found dead on the very first night of his stay--apparently poisoned. There had been ripples of jealousy between Mary and her sister Emilia over Emilia's fiance. There is also the matter of Mary's missing jewels. Although the police are immediately on the scene, Huberman takes it upon himself to investigate and give the officials pointers when he thinks it needed. 

The police are quite sure that Emilia is the guilty party--even when notations in her sister's hand are found that make it seem that Mary has committed suicide. Then the owner's young son goes missing as well as Emilia's fiance (who winds up being a top-level Inspector). Is anyone who they seem to be? And what really happened to Mary and her jewels?

This short piece is a fine little self-aware novel.  It makes no bones about being aware that it is a mystery story about mystery stories.  We have the police inspector who apparently takes the amateur into his confidence and who, apparently, is taking in all of Huberman's suggestions....but then goes on to ignore them. We have Huberman who finally comes round to the official view of the mystery...only to find they are all proved wrong. It is a very interesting look at the makings of a mystery story. Not terribly complex and good reading detectives will know who the culprit is.  But I don't think this detracts from the fun.  Four stars.

 This fulfills the "Translated Work" square for the Golden Vintage Bingo card.

1 comment:

fredamans said...

Sounds neat... a mystery within a mystery! Fab review!