The interrogator, a criminal investigator of indeterminate age and sex. The interrogator is patient; thorough; obsessed with the details of the possible crime to whose investigation he or she has been assigned; quick-minded, able to remember the smallest details of the affidavit being recorded by a secretary nearby; particularly attentive to information of a perverse or sexual nature; and terse in the wording of questions, possibly simply because they must be written down (the subject of the “grilling” is deaf). The interrogator is professional but indifferent to the discomfort caused by the prolonged questioning and orchestrates the pace of the narrative with two commands: “Go on” and “Cut it short.”
The interrogee, an old family retainer or general factotum. He is deaf (but not from birth) and in service to two or possibly three “gentlemen” on a French country estate. His crystal-clear account of the incidents surrounding the disappearance of the secretary to his employers, along with his detailed descriptions of the countryside, the towns, the rooms of every estate, and the personalities and foibles of the inhabitants of his world, make up the text of the novel. Sometimes loquacious, sometimes hesitant, and sometimes angry at the interrogator, but always articulate (his speeches lack punctuation except for occasional commas), he relates what he knows, or what he...
(The entire section is 492 words.)