My latest read was the last of Dodo Ink’s 2016 launch titles. I was intrigued to read The Eleventh Letter, a novel which is considered to be a ghost story combining elements of mystery and romance.
‘She went over to the window and looked down onto the police vehicles in the courtyard, their roof-lights glittering in the sun. There was something in that look, a kind of intention, which I couldn’t work out.’
The story begins in Pisa in 1986 where we are introduced to Christopher Katiwa, a psychotherapist who has been brought in to help investigate a murder case. From this point the chapters switch back and forth through time, between Pisa in the 1980’s and Chris’ Harley Street Office in 2010. One day, when Chris is stuck in his office due to a snowstorm, he notices a woman on the street and subsequently invites her to take shelter with him. This mysterious woman, who introduces herself as Kay, discovers some tapes in the office which include recordings of an Italian murder trial from the 1980’s. Together, Chris and Kay listen to the voices from his past, the tape recordings from Pisa in which Chris interviews a woman named Louise. Louise is being questioned to ascertain her involvement in the deaths of a newly married couple, and Chris appears to believe her, and defends her innocence. However, as past memories creep to the surface, many questions are raised about the trial, and whether Louise is as innocent as first believed…
‘I grasped at the strangeness of it, maybe feeling it for the first time. Who was she?’
From the start there was a lot of intrigue and mystery surrounding the characters and I was keen to find out more about the circumstances surrounding the murder case. There are sections of the story made up of transcripts of the interview between Chris and Louise as we re-live the details of the case. I found this worked well as the details were gradually revealed and you got an idea of how the conversation played out as you try to establish the truth. Louise’s behaviour also raises some uncertainty and parts of her testimony feature other worldly elements which add an extra dynamic to the story. This is where the line between what is real and what isn’t becomes blurred, and we see a combination of elements of ghost and mystery stories. There is certainly a surreal tone to the book, and there are lots of layers to the mystery. The switches in time, dream sequences, intrigue surrounding identity. All of these elements are woven together creating a tale of mystery with plenty to ponder over.
‘Make sure that you are most aware of what you do not know.’
The Eleventh Letter was a complex, surreal story that was an enjoyable read. It is a story that can fit a number of genres that leaves you questioning what is real to the very end.