Inspector Espinosa, hero of the crime series by Luiz Alfredo Garcia-Roza, is a reader of crime stories himself. His flat in Copacabana is overflowing with books. You get the feeling this is where he wants to spend all his time, but… there’s crime on the streets and he has to solve it. On foot, mainly.
As a real cop, Espinosa would be unusual. As a crime fiction hero, not so much. He’s a thinking man, but not averse to action and the odd bit of bed gymnastics. The kind of hero a professor of psychology or philosophy might dream up in his leisure hours. (Which reflects Garcia-Roza’s academic career in those fields before he turned to writing at the age of 60.)
The appeal of the Inspector Espinosa series lies in the way the reader is aware of the depth of thought behind it, without those deep thoughts getting in the way of the entertainment.
After rushing through his first novels as fast as I could find them, Pursuitbroke my momentum exactly because in that book the balance tilted too far into psychology. After ploughing through it with a heavy heart, I actually stopped looking for Garcia-Roza’s books. However, nostalgia for those early books got the better of me this week and I tried his latest, Alone in the Crowd… and it was good!
I now have the exciting prospect of hunting out Blackout and seeing if that’s up to his usual standard as well.
Apart from tightly plotted, psychologically motivated crime stories, you get the additional bonus of virtual visits to what must be a fascinating environment – the inner suburbs of Rio de Janeiro. The action takes place at Ipanema beach and the Copa, Copabana. (Which is much more fun if you can keep Barry Manilow at bay.)
Read them in order, starting with The Silence of the Rain, and you have a good 12 hours or so of low-cost travel to an exciting destination where everyone goes ah!