Javier Marias's A Heart So White chronicles with unnerving insistence the relentless power of the past. Juan knows little of the interior life of his father Ranz; but when Juan marries, he begins to consider the past anew, and begins to ponder what he doesn't really want to know. Secrecy - its possible convenience, its price, and even its civility - hovers throughout the novel. A Heart So White becomes a sort of anti-detective story of human nature. Intrigue; the sins of the father; the fraudulent and the genuine; marriage and strange repetitions of violence: Marias elegantly sends shafts of inquisitory light into shadows and on to the costs of ambivalence. (My hands are of your colour; but I shame/To wear a heart so white" - Shakespeare's Macbeth .) "