The middle section is written in first person from the point of view of the detective, so at that point we are just getting what he knows about the event. The smallest section, at the end, returns to third person to tie up all the events. Well, sort of.
This is one of the strangest mystery novels I have read in a long time. The first event, the suicide, leads to crimes committed by other persons, and we the reader know why this is happening. The detective is trying to work his way through all the relationships of persons involved with the dead man and none of them make sense to him. In the end the crimes are solved but there are still some unresolved issues and a lot of unanswered questions. Yet this did not leave me feeling unsatisfied. I enjoyed this book through each section and I am eager to find another book in this series and see if the author can live up to this first experience.
This is a police procedural, but most of the story is how the detective follows up on leads and hunches, and very little of it relates to forensic evidence. There is an examination of the body, of course, but the evidence points so strongly to murder, that they fail to look for evidence of suicide. I would have questioned the validity of this except that the detective comments on the lack of technology in Brazil and how the tests that would be available to US detectives are not available in his department.
The reader is subtly introduced to aspects of the Brazilian culture. The existence of a very poor sector and homeless children. The prevalence of kidnappings and even businesses set up to negotiate kidnappings and recovery of the kidnap victim. The detective also comments on the lack of trust between police officers; it appears there are more corrupt officers than trustworthy ones.
What I loved most was that the detective is a book lover. His apartment is stacked with books. He stops by used bookstores several times during the story.
Another Saturday was upon him, and he had once again resolved to organize the books in his apartment. He was looking forward to a rainy day. Nothing better than a rainy day to inspire him to arrange his books.And:
...he decided to continue organizing his books into a kind of "living bookcase." The section he had done the Saturday before was still standing, which encouraged him to keep going as high as he could reach. At lunchtime he figured he hadn't made much progress--the first chapter of Nicholas Nickleby being responsible for the delay.Please see these other excellent posts about this book or this series:
Margot at Confessions of a Mystery Novelist... featured Inspector Espinosa on her blog for Letter E last year.
Review at Mysteries in Paradise
Review at The View from the Blue House
The Crime Fiction Alphabet is sponsored by Mysteries in Paradise. Please visit this post to check out other entries for this letter. This is the first translated book I have read this year and will count for the Books in Translation Reading Challenge and also for the Global Reading Challenge.