In John Banville's The Book of Evidence, Freddie Montgomery sits in prison, awaiting his trial and sentencing for the murder of Josie Bell. The unfortunate maid came across her killer as he was stealing a painting, and one thing led to another. In Freddie's account he imagines he's standing in court, talking to the judge. "Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth? Don’t make me laugh".
Freddie identifies the turning points that have led him to his current situation. But if we think we can begin to understand his actions by these meaningful moments, Freddie quickly puts us right. He says, "They have significance, apparently. They may even have value of some sort. But they do not mean anything. There now, I have declared my faith.".
We can't believe anything that Freddie says. Which parts of his life are fake and which real? He tells us he might try to use what he has written as his testimony. "But no," he says, "I have asked Inspector Haslet to put it into my file, with the other, official fictions." On finishing The Book of Evidence I can only conclude that Banville has written a metafiction, an account of a murder narrated by a fictional murderer who never stops telling us stories. Deep!