28 August 2013

Review: BLACKOUT, Luiz Alfredo Garcia-Roza

  • Published Henry Holt and Co.; First Edition edition (April 1, 2010)
  • 256 pages
  • ISBN 978-0-8050-7960-9
  • ASIN: B003GWX8L2 (Amazon Kindle)
  • #6 in the Inspector Espinosa series set in Brazil
  • Translated by Benjamin Moser from Portuguese
Synopsis (Amazon)

With no witnesses and no weapon, it seems like the case of the one-legged homeless man found lying in a cul-de-sac on São João Hill, shot through the heart, will remain unsolved. But Chief Inspector Espinosa can’t shake thoughts of the hapless victim—who would target a penniless man who posed no physical threat? Focusing his incisive mind and characteristically unhurried inquiry on a group of affluent guests who dined at a nearby mansion on the stormy night of the murder, Espinosa carefully interrogates his way into the lives of his suspects, exposing lies, cover-ups—and further mysteries.

When the body of a prominent young urbanite is discovered in a scandalous state of undress, Espinosa must find the unlikely connections between two murders with no apparent witnesses or motive. Luiz Alfredo Garcia-Roza turns up the heat in this novel, supplementing his seductive prose with psychological twists and steamy secrets that lead to the unexpected climax.

My Take

Thanks to those who recommended I read BLACKOUT for South America in the 2013 Global Reading Challenge.

The first murder, that of a one-legged apparently homeless man, intrigues Detective Espinosa because it takes place in a district he knows well, close to where he grew up. The main suspects are two men who are collecting their parked cars in heavy rain after a dinner party. Espinosa prefers one over the other as a suspect but for a long time the case goes nowhere. Much of the investigation relates to how the victim got to the site of the murder, which is at the top of a very steep hill, and why he was there.

During part 2 of the story Espinosa and his team carry out a constant investigation of his preferred suspect, turning up at his place of work to check minor details of his story, or talking to his wife. We see most of the story through the eyes of this suspect, raising the question of how reliable a witness he really is. He claims to his wife that there are large parts of the evening that he doesn't remember. Espinosa ramps up the psychological pressure.

In places the author's style reminds me of Simenon and that is probably why I liked it so much.

Some readers will find the story's climax a bit too open-ended and inconclusive.

My rating: 4.6

Also reviewed
4.5, THE SILENCE OF THE RAIN

Series
Inspector Espinosa
1. The Silence of the Rain (2002)
2. December Heat (2003)
3. Southwesterly Wind (2004)
4. A Window in Copacabana (2005)
5. Pursuit (2006)
6. Blackout (2008)
7. Alone in the Crowd (2009)

See an article about the author 

Author's website

3 comments:

Irene said...

sounds extremely good.

Margot Kinberg said...

Kerrie - One of the things I like about this series is the character of Espinosa. He's philosophical without being tiresome, and he's a good cop without being tiresome about that too. I know what you mean about open-ended novels; I've read some of them too. Doesn't matter (for me anyway) - I still love this series.

Kathy D. said...

I like the series, too, and Espinosa. I have read three of the books already and put this one on library reserve.

It will help me make my Global Challenge while I enjoy the read.

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