Sunday, May 19, 2013

G is for Luiz Alfredo Garcia-Roza

Today I am featuring The Silence of the Rain by Luiz Alfredo Garcia-Roza for the letter G in the Crime Fiction Alphabet. This is the first of a police procedural series that stars Inspector Espinosa of the First Precinct in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

This book is divided into three sections. The first section, which makes up about half of the book, is told in third person and we get the stories of three persons affected by a suicide that appears to be murder. These three persons are the detective investigating the murder and two other persons, one who sees the suicide take place, and  Rose, the secretary of the dead man.

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.

20 comments:

  1. Sounds like a really unusual book, Tracy. I'm not sure it's for me but I like reading reviews about novels different from the usual type.

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    1. Sarah, I think I would have enjoyed this anyway, because police procedurals are a favorite and I am trying to read more international crime fiction... but I liked it primarily because of the uniqueness.

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  2. Tracy - First, thank you very much for the kind mention. You've done an excellent review here. I think you're exactly right about the way Garcia-Roza shares Brazilian culture with the reader. Having lived there myself briefly, I can say that a lot of what he writes is really evocative and rings true. I like it very much too that Espinosa both a reader and somewhat of a philosopher. There's certainly more to him than just his 'cop' side. And although this is an unusual kind of story, I don't think it leaves the reader confused - well, not this one anyway.

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    1. Margot, I liked the fact that he was a philosopher also. He is unusual for a policeman without being too damaged.

      You lived in Brazil? How exciting! Sounds like a great experience.

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  3. What a strange book, another one for the wishlist, you have to don't you?

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    1. Col, I know what you mean. My wishlist is becoming as hard to manage as my TBR pile.

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  4. Sounds really intriguing TracyK - I like the sound of the structure and the slightly anomalous take on the genre - I'll definitely see about tracking down a copy - thanks very much for this.

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    1. Sergio, I really liked the structure. I will be interested to see if other novels in the series are similar. Regardless, I think I will like the character of the policeman and how he approaches work and life.

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    2. Just got myself a copy fo this book and can't wait to read it - thanks again for making the introductions TracyK.

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    3. Sergio, I will be interested to see what you think.

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  5. Thanks for the interesting review, Tracy.

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    1. Rebecca, You're welcome and thanks for stopping by.

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  6. Thanks for the review, Tracy. It's nice to read about detectives from different parts of the world, and find out how different they are from each other. I like the title of this book, quite apt in the case of Brazil. There is stillness even during heavy rain, but that's just my view.

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    1. Prashant, I agree. I would enjoy this story of a Brazilian detective even if the structure had not been unusual. I could not figure out the title, although there was a lot of rain. But I do like rain.

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  7. The structure and setting sound appealing. Just checked, local library has a copy of this book. Thanks for the recommendation!

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    1. Valli, hope you do enjoy it. I am very glad to have found this series.

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  8. TracyK: Thanks for the review. I am glad you are reaching out in your reading for books far from our average North American sleuths. Inspector Espinoza sounds like a sleuth you will remember.

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    1. Bill, I plan to read more from other countries in the remainder of 2013. It is an eye-opening experience to read outside of my personal frame of reference.

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  9. I just read the first 60 pages in no time last night and loved it, but I won't look at this post more closely until I finish (it might be a late night for me).

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    1. Rebecca, as you can tell I liked the book a lot and bought several more by this author that I look forward to reading. I hope you like all of the book. It is unusual.

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