Review: "Those Who Knew"

On an unnamed island once ruled ruthlessly by murderous dictators, Lena, a student revolutionary, succumbs to the charms of an older student named Victor.

With Victor’s encouragement, she becomes an activist, risking her life by throwing Molotov cocktails at government cars and setting up secret meetings of like-minded students. They are planning to ensure a legitimate election in the country. All the involved students strive to gain Victor’s attention. His magnetism and charm are overwhelming. He chooses Lena as his intimate partner. She is thrilled. Then he tries to kill her in a fit of anger.

Several years later, Lena is a part-time college teacher at her alma mater. Students again are revolting, this time over the high price of education. Victor, now a senator seeking re-election, throws his support toward the students who see him as their champion and savior.

Maria is particularly under his spell. She has presented Victor with an incredibly inventive government plan that will ensure free tuition to all students. Victor passes off this plan as his own. When Maria expresses dissent over this, he pushes her into the path of a bus. She is killed, her death believed to be an accident.

Lena knows that Victor is to blame for Maria’s death. When they accidentally meet again  at a play, Victor, newly engaged to a woman who can help his career, surreptitiously hurts Lena by violently squeezing her wrist. Later that night, Lena sees a sinister figure lurking outside her building.

Victor rises in his career with his eloquence, good looks, and connections to a powerful, political father-in-law. Young voters believe he is on their side as he rallies against the government’s economic plans. They are eager to support him, and fawn over him publicly.

It is only when Cristina, his wife and daughter of the still-influential retired senator, makes a request on behalf of her father that the seeds of Victor’s downfall are sown. Other characters weave through this book, and all have a unique connection to Victor, leading to his exposure as a fraud, abuser and murderer.

One cannot read this book without thinking of the current “Me Too” movement and of the scandals associated with people in power. Readers will be glued to the page as Victor meets his downfall at the hands of those who have suffered because of his actions.