Engrossing Argentinian political drama

The Case of Lisandra P.: A Novel - Helene Gremillon, Alison Anderson

This was an interesting book about a young woman found dead by her husband, Vittorio, outside of their 6-floor apartment window. Vittorio is arrested for her murder.  Vittorio is a psychoanalyst and he convinces one of his patients, Eva Maria, to help him find the real murderer.  Eva Maria was Vittorio’s patient due to the disappearance and murder of her daughter, Stella, which took place five years earlier.


 At the beginning of the book, it states that the novel is based on a true story, yet after the book ends, it doesn’t say anything about the true events, other than that the character of Miguel is based on the testimony of Miguel Angel Estrella.  Estrella is an Argentine pianist who was imprisoned and tortured by the Civic-military dictatorship of Uruguay in 1977.  The chapter involving Miguel is one of the most powerful chapters of the book.


The novel is more than just a complex mystery to be solved. The author uses the book to give a detailed picture of the political history of Argentina.  Eva Maria believes her daughter, Stella, was a victim of the country’s “dirty war”.  During that time, death planes were used. Desaparecidos were drugged, dragged onto planes, stripped naked and thrown out of the planes into the Rio de la Plata to drown.  The horror of the torture, both physical and psychological, of the prisoners is brutally brought to life.   There were also children whose parents had been killed and who were stolen and adopted illegally.


The author does a wonderful job of plotting out this intricate mystery. There are plenty of suspenseful twists and turns.  I’m surprised to see it compared to “The Girl on the Train” and “The Silent Wife”.  I think this book is a much more multilevel literary achievement than either of those books.  The only thing I didn’t like too much about the book was that at times it read like a journalistic account (the author has been a journalist).  Also, the book is written mostly in conversation, which made it feel like reading a screen play.  However, on the other hand, Ms. Gremillon does a great job of showing the tangled web of the human mind.  I found it quite engrossing.


This book was given to me by the publisher through First to Read in return for an honest review.