Gabriel Garcia Marquez died last week. His 1981 creation Santiago Nasar is going to be dead by the early morning. He doesn’t know it, but the rest of the inhabitants of his little coastal town do. He was at the wedding of Angela Vicario and Bayardo San Roman the night before. His fate is sealed because the new husband finds his wife is not a virgin, and she names Santiago Nasar as the man responsible for this appalling state of affairs. Her brothers agree to kill him. Irony is everywhere. Although they tell virtually everyone they meet of their planned crime, they are rarely believed. Almost no-one tries to warn him, in part because they think the Vicario twins are simply drunk or bragging, or because they believe someone else will alert him or that he must have heard the threats himself, or – in some cases – that they would actually like to see him dead. Throughout it all, we’re not even sure that Santiago Nasar is guilty of the crime for which he is to be murdered. In the final three pages, the blood sacrifice. The brothers attack him systematically, and as they stab with their butchers’ knives the defenceless man, they are described as ‘floating in the dazzling backwater they had found on the other side of fear’. Each of the wounds and their effects are described in forensic detail, which fits with the rest of the narrative, very deliberately pieced together by a contemporary observer in journalistic style decades after. In fact, Marquez tells us, it is 27 years later. He likes precision, in part because that builds a strong sense that these events actually happened, that they are true. I chose to read Chronicle Of A Death Foretold because Marquez had just put his cue in the rack and for the ignoble reason that it was the shortest of his that I could find on my shelf. At 122 pages of large type, it’s a novella rather than a novel. More an extended short story, really. It’s much shorter than The Sense Of An Ending. But it is a meditation on memory, honour – this is an honour killing, after all – and complicity. It actually has something to say.