Category: Luiz Alfredo Garcia-Roza

Review: The Silence of the Rain by Luiz Alfredo Garcia-Roza

Esta entrada es bilingüe, para ver la versión en castellano desplazarse hacia abajo

Henry Holt and Co., 2013. Kindle edition (1162 KB). First published in Brazil under the title O silêncio da chuva, 1996. Translated by Benjamin Moser, 2002. ASIN: B00DK43OWE. ISBN: 9781466850309. 272 pages.

https://i2.wp.com/jacketupload.macmillanusa.com/jackets/high_res/jpgs/9781466850309.jpgThe Silence of the Rain is the first instalment in a series featuring Inspector Espinosa from the First Precinct in Rio de Janeiro. When we first find him, Espinosa is heading towards the Praça Mauá, a good place to sit and think.

‘The square was small and located in one of the busiest parts of Rio, but it allowed him to escape the claustrophobia of the station house. Tuesday wasn’t such a bad day, especially compared to weekends when the station was packed full of hookers and pickpockets from the post. That was his clientele: hookers, pickpockets, drunks and junkies, the small fry of the port’s underworld. The real crimes, committed in the offices downtown, never reached the First Precinct―even the high-class prostitution in the buildings right next to the station were safe from police action. And murders were rare downtown.’ 

Soon the news arrives to the police station in Praça Mauá that a body has been found inside a car that was parked in a garage located downtown. The victim, an important executive in a large company, is identified as Ricardo Fonseca de Carvalho, forty-two, executive director of Planalto Minerações. Ricardo was shot inside his car. It’s worth noting here that the reader knows, from the first pages, what really happened in the car. In any case, Inspector Espinosa is called to investigate. Espinosa considers a number of possible scenarios but it doesn’t occur to him the hypothesis of a suicide. There was no gun in the car.

Espinosa discovers that Carvalho had recently signed a life insurance for a million dollars and the case is further complicated by the mysterious disappearance of Rose, Ricado Carvalho’s secretary. His widow, Bia Vasconcelos, an internationally renowned designer, becomes the prime suspect, but at the moment of Ricardo’s death, Bia was with Julio Campos de Azevedo at Bar Luiz. Julio teaches at the architecture school and has a girlfriend called Alba who runs a fitness club. Inspector Espinosa soon will feel attracted by them both, Bia and Alba. The story is further complicated when two other bodies related to the case are found.

Luiz Alfredo García-Roza in an interview (see below) has said he became a novelist late in life. His first mystery novel, The Silence of the Rain, was published in 1996, when he was 60 years old. Before that, from 1972 to 1995, he had written only theoretical essays (eight altogether: in philosophy, psychology, and psychoanalysis); at that time he was a professor of psychology and philosophy at Federal University of Rio de Janeiro. Fortunately, The Silence of the Rain was honoured in 1997 with two great literature prizes in Brazil, which encouraged him to write a second book, Achados e perdidos, 1998 (December Heat). Since then he has published another seven books in his Inspector Espinosa Mystery series (five are available in English), Vento sudoeste, 1999 (Southwesterly Wind); Uma Janela em Copacabana, 2001 (A Window in Copacabana); Perseguido, 2003 (Pursuit); Espinosa Sem Saida, 2006 (Blackout); Na Multidão, 2007 (Alone in the Crowd); Céu de origamis, 2009; and Fantasma, 2012. He has also published a standalone novel in 2005, Berenice procura. 

For quite some time now, I was interested in reading Garcia-Roza’s novels. Unfortunately I have not been able to find his books in its original language at a reasonable price. Finally I have had to be content myself with an English translation since the Spanish version is out of print. I particularly liked the figure of Inspector Espinosa, he is quite an endearing character for his humanity. Besides, the story has a strong sense of place, something I appreciate very much in my readings. I found particularly interesting the way the author is able to keep the reader’s attention despite all we know from the very first pages. I must admit that the resolution of the case is perhaps its weakest point but, all in all, I enjoyed reading this book and I have the intention to continue with the next one in the series.

My rating: A (I loved it)

The Silence of the Rain has been reviewed at Mysteries in Paradise (Kerrie), Petrona (Maxine), Ms Wordopolis Read (Rebecca), Findingtimetowrite (Marina Sofia), and at The View from the Blue House (Rob). 

Macmillan Publishers 

Interview with Luiz Alfredo Garcia-Roza

See also my previous post Luiz Alfredo García-Roza

El silencio de la lluvia de Luiz Alfredo Garcia-Roza

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El silencio de la lluvia es la primera entrega de una serie protagonizada por el inspector Espinosa de la Primera Comisaría de Río de Janeiro. La primera vez que lo encontramos, Espinosa se dirige hacia la Praça Mauá, un buen lugar para sentarse a pensar.

‘La plaza era pequeña y se encontraba en uno de los barrios más concurridos de Río, pero le permitía escapar de la claustrofobia de la comisaría. El martes no era un día tan malo, sobre todo en comparación con los fines de semana cuando las dependencias de la comisaria se llenaban de prostitutas y carteristas. Esa era su clientela: putas, rateros, borrachos y drogadictos, los peces chicos de los bajos fondos del puerto. Los verdaderos crímenes, cometidos en las oficinas del centro, nunca llegaban a la Primera Comisaría, incluso la prostitución de alto standing en los edificios justo al lado de la comisaría estaban a salvo de la acción policíal. Y los asesinatos en el centro eran poco frecuentes.’

Pronto llega a la comisaría de la Praça Mauá la noticia de que un cuerpo ha aparecido dentro de un coche que estaba aparcado en un garaje del centro. La víctima, un importante ejecutivo de una gran empresa, es identificado como Ricardo Fonseca de Carvalho, cuarenta y dos años, director ejecutivo de Planalto Minerações. Ricardo recibió un disparo en el interior de su coche. Vale la pena señalar aquí que el lector sabe, desde las primeras páginas, lo que realmente ocurrió en el coche. En cualquier caso, el inspector Espinosa acude a investigar. Espinosa se plantea una serie de escenarios posibles, pero no se le ocurre la hipótesis de un suicidio. No había ningún arma en el coche.

Espinosa descubre que Carvalho había firmado recientemente un seguro de vida por un millón de dólares y el caso se complica aún más por la misteriosa desaparición de Rose, la secretaria de Ricado Carvalho. Su viuda, Bia Vasconcelos, una diseñadora de renombre internacional, se convierte en la principal sospechosa, pero en el momento de la muerte de Ricardo, Bia estaba con Julio Campos de Azevedo en el Bar Luiz. Julio enseña en la escuela de arquitectura y tiene una novia llamada Alba que dirige un club de fitness. El inspector Espinosa pronto se sentirá atraído por las dos, Bia y Alba. La historia se complica aún más cuando se encuentran otros dos cuerpos relacionados con el caso.

Luiz Alfredo García-Roza en una entrevista ha dicho que se convirtió en un novelista tardío. Su primera novela de misterio, El silencio de la lluvia, se publicó en 1996, cuando  tenía 60 años. Antes de eso, desde 1972 hasta 1995, había escrito sólo ensayos teóricos (ocho en total: sobre filosofía, psicología y psicoanálisis); en ese momento era profesor de psicología y filosofía en la Universidad Federal de Río de Janeiro. Afortunadamente, El silencio de la lluvia fue galardonada en 1997 con dos grandes premios de literatura brasileña, que lo animaron a escribir un segundo libro, Achados e perdidos, 1998. A partir de entonces ha publicado otros siete libros en la serie de misterio protagonizada por el inspector Espinosa Vento sudoeste, 1999; Uma Janela em Copacabana, 2001; Perseguido, 2003; Espinosa Sem Saida, 2006; Na Multidão, 2007; Céu de origamis, 2009; y Fantasma, 2012. También ha publicado una novela independiente en el 2005, Berenice procura. 

Desde hace algún tiempo, estaba interesado en leer las novelas de García-Roza. Lamentablemente no he sido capaz de encontrar sus libros en su idioma original, a un precio razonable. Finalmente he tenido que conformarme con una traducción inglésa ya que la versión española está agotada. Me ha gustado especialmente la figura del inspector Espinosa, es un personaje muy entrañable por su humanidad. Además, la historia tiene un fuerte “sentido de lugar”, algo que aprecio mucho en mis lecturas. Me pareció particularmente interesante la forma en que el autor es capaz de mantener la atención del lector a pesar de todo lo que sabemos desde las primeras páginas. Debo admitir que la resolución del caso es tal vez su punto más débil, pero que, en general, me gustó mucho la lectura de este libro y tengo la intención de continuar con el siguiente de la serie.

Mi valoración: A (me encantó)

Entrevista con Luiz Alfredo García-Roza

Luiz Alfredo Garcia-Roza

Within a few weeks Brazil will be hosting the 2014 FIFA World Cup. Therefore, I have considered appropriate to pay attention to one of the leading Brazilian crime fiction writers, Luiz Alfredo García-Roza. Unfortunately I have not been able to buy any of his books in its original language at a decent price, but some Kindle edition of his books translated into English are now available at very attractive prices. I look forward to reading some of his books soon. Stay tuned.

From Wikipedia. Luiz Alfredo Garcia-Roza (born 1936 in Rio de Janeiro) is a retired Brazilian professor and current novelist. As an academic he wrote philosophy and psychology textbooks. After retiring from academia he became known as a novelist and shared the Prêmio Jabuti for Literature in 1997. He is known for his Detective fiction, in particular his Inspector Espinosa Mystery series. For additional information click here.

See also my previous post Interview with Luiz Alfredo Garcia-Roza

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The Silence of the Rain [Picador; First Edition edition (July 1, 2003)]. Inspector Espinosa Mysteries (Volume 1). [Original: O silêncio da chuva, 1996]

In a parking garage in the center of Rio de Janeiro, corporate executive Ricardo Carvalho is found dead in his car, a bullet in his head, his wallet and briefcase missing. Inspector Espinosa is called in to investigate the apparent robbery and murder, but the world-weary Espinosa knows that things are not always as they seem. Carvalho’s recently acquired one-million-dollar life insurance policy and the subsequent disappearance of his secretary Rose complicate matters—as does Espinosa’s attraction to Carvalho’s beautiful widow, one of the suspects. And when two more people turn up dead, Espinosa must speed up his investigation before anyone else becomes a casualty.

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December Heat [Picador; First Edition edition (March 1, 2004)]. Inspector Espinosa Mysteries (Volume 2), [Original: Achados e perdidos, 1998]

A retired policeman spends a typically alcohol-filled evening with his girlfriend, a prostitute. When he wakes up the next morning, his wallet and car key are missing, his girlfriend has been murdered, and he can remember none of the events of the previous night. Inspector Espinosa, veteran detective and friend of the ex-cop, is convinced there’s more here than meets the eye, and when other bodies begin turning up, he finds himself not only racing after a killer but falling in love.

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Southwesterly Wind [Picador; First Edition edition (December 9, 2004)]. Inspector Espinosa Mysteries (Volume 4), Inspector Espinosa Mysteries (Volume 3), [Original: Vento sudoeste, 1999]

Chief of the Copacabana precinct Espinosa is more than happy to interrupt his paperwork when a terrified young man arrives at the station with a bizarre story. A psychic has predicted that he would commit a murder, it seems, and the prediction has become fact in the young man’s mind. As the weather changes and the southwesterly wind—always a sign of dramatic change—starts up, what at first seems like paranoia becomes brutal reality. Two violent murders occur, and their only link is the lonely, clever man who had sought Espinosa out a few days earlier for help.

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A Window in Copacabana [Picador; First Edition edition (January 24, 2006)]. [Original: Uma Janela em Copacabana, 2001]

Copacabana, Rio de Janeiro. Three policemen have been killed over the course of a few days. Espinosa, chief of the 12th Precinct, doesn’t have much to go on. When the body of a woman connected to one of the dead cops is found on the sidewalk below her apartment window, things get even more complicated, as a reputed “witness”–the wife of a high-ranking government official–becomes obsessed with the case, and with Espinosa.

Nothing is quite as it first appears as Espinosa finds himself in his old haunts of Leme and Copacabana, and in the all-too-familiar terrain of corruption, greed, and fear.

Berenice procura (Companhia das Letras, 2005) Not an Inspector Espinosa mystery series.

Um menino de dois anos, filho de diplomata, brinca na praia de Copacabana sob os olhos vigilantes da babá. Ele tem uma das mãos ocupada com uma pá, que carrega com orgulho, e a outra entretida em recolher objetos do chão. Quando avista um morrote de areia, resolve pôr o utensílio de plástico em ação e começa a cavar. Até que encontra um corpo.
Esse seria mais um caso para o inspetor Espinosa – se Luiz Alfredo Garcia-Roza não tivesse decidido dar um descanso ao personagem de seus cinco romances anteriores. No lugar dele, o autor apresenta Berenice, uma taxista de 34 anos, também carioca, que corre todas as manhãs para agüentar o tranco de mais de dez horas diárias de trabalho. Berenice mora com a mãe e o filho; seu ex-marido, Domingos, faz visitas regulares aos três. Mais regulares do que Berenice gostaria, aliás. Domingos é jornalista free-lancer. Colabora com alguns jornais, repassando notícias que recolhe em hospitais e delegacias. Graças a essas conexões, e numa tentativa de se reaproximar da ex-mulher, vira seu informante sobre o assassinato do travesti Valéria – enterrado nas areias de Copacabana e encontrado pelo pequeno estrangeiro com sua pá.
O ponto de Berenice fica bem próximo da cena do crime, e quando ela chega para trabalhar, naquela manhã quente de segunda-feira, fica sabendo do assassinato ocorrido na noite anterior. Pouco depois, durante a primeira corrida, a conversa com o passageiro gira em torno do crime – cena que se repetirá diversas vezes no táxi de Berenice, agora muito interessada no caso. Graças às informações recolhidas por Domingos, Berenice chega a Russo, um sem-teto que estava na praia no momento do assassinato. Russo passa as noites num túnel abandonado do metrô e conhece como ninguém as galerias subterrâneas do Rio de Janeiro.
Cansada de ser apenas uma “caixa de ressonância da cidade”, um vazio onde as vozes dos passageiros ecoam, trazendo opiniões que entram e saem sem deixar nada, Berenice se envolve emocionalmente com o caso de Valéria e passa a comportar-se como detetive. E é através dela que Garcia-Roza nos apresenta um submundo inóspito da Cidade Maravilhosa, povoado por habitantes de galerias de águas pluviais e esgotos, órfãos criados por travestis, e delinqüentes que vivem de furtar turistas.

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Pursuit [Henry Holt and Co.; 1st edition (January 24, 2006)]. Inspector Espinosa Mysteries (Volume 5), [Original: Perseguido, 2003]

A hospital psychiatrist feels he’s being stalked by a young patient. For as long as possible, he convinces himself that the young man is harmless, but when the doctor’s daughter disappears and the patient goes missing, too, he calls on Espinosa for help. Soon after, the patient turns up dead.

With his death begins a chain of other deaths, each more mysterious than the one that preceded it, each seemingly linked to the doctor and his former patient. As Espinosa learns more about the doctor’s history, it becomes harder to discern the stalker from the stalked, reality from fantasy, and the sane from the diabolical. In this installment of the “seductive, fascinating” (The New York Times Book Review) series, the sultry maze of Rio de Janeiro’s streets conspires against Espinosa, confounding his judgment, stymieing his search, and, somewhere, concealing a murderer.

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Blackout [Picador; First Edition edition (June 23, 2009)]. Inspector Espinosa Mysteries (Volume 6), [Original: Espinosa Sem Saida, 2006]

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 his usual unhurried inquiry on a group of wealthy guests who dined at a nearby mansion on the rainy night of the murder, Espinosa interrogates his way into the lives of his suspects, exposing lies, cover-ups—and another murder.

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Alone in the Crowd [Picador; First Edition edition (May 25, 2010)]. Inspector Espinosa Mysteries (Volume 7), [Original: Na Multidão, 2007]

An elderly lady approaches the front desk at the Twelfth Precinct in Copacabana and demands to speak with the chief. Tired after a long day, she leaves without further explanation, promising to return. Two hours later, Doña Laureta is dead, and witnesses’ accounts vary as to whether she was pushed or fell in front of the bus that killed her on one of the busiest avenues in the city.

Veteran police chief inspector Espinosa quickly pinpoints a suspect in Hugo Breno, an unassuming bank teller whose solitary existence takes on a sinister cast as he shadows the inspector’s movements across the city. Meanwhile Espinosa discovers an unsettling connection from the past between himself and Breno and must turn his trademark psychological inquiry inward to determine how murky memories of a murder from long ago might play into Doña Laureta’s untimely passing. Chilling and ultimately heart-stopping, Alone in the Crowd presents Espinosa as we have never seen him before, the man of detached expertise and calm self-assurance entangled in a mystery where reason alone will not suffice.

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Céu de origamis (Companhia das Letras, 2009) Inspector Espinosa Mysteries (Volume 7)

Cecília é uma secretária competente. Depois que seu patrão sai do consultório dentário ela guarda todo o equipamento, desliga os aparelhos, tranca a porta e vai embora. Doutor Marcos é um homem tranquilo, e o trabalho com ele é sem sobressaltos. Hoje ele e a mulher vão jantar em casa de amigos. Fato raro, pensa a secretária. Em geral, doutor Marcos e a mulher ficam em casa. Estranho, para um casal jovem como eles…
Cecília gosta de trabalhar no consultório. Tudo é sempre tão perfeitamente previsível que Cecília jamais poderia imaginar que no dia seguinte receberia a visita da polícia em busca de informações sobre seu patrão. Na véspera, doutor Marcos desaparecera sem deixar sinal. Não havia registro de acidentes de trânsito nem de nenhum tipo de ocorrência policial. Só que ele simplesmente não chegara em casa.
E, como se não bastasse, havia um detalhe absurdo: o carro de doutor Marcos estava estacionado exatamente onde deveria estar, em sua vaga na garagem do prédio onde morava. O que teria acontecido com doutor Marcos? Sobre ele, Cecília explicaria a Espinosa: “Sempre foi atencioso e gentil, nunca alterou a voz, nunca reclamou com mau humor de alguma coisa. Ele parece irreal”.

Fantasma (Companhia das Letras, 2012) Inspector Espinosa Mysteries (Volume 8)

A mulher sentada à beira da calçada na av. Nossa Senhora de Copacabana só se sente em casa vivendo na rua: estar entre paredes a oprime, ela tem a sensação de que vai morrer sufocada. É tão fina e educada que todos a chamam de Princesa. Seu “lar” é um trecho do piso de cimento delimitado por pedaços de papelão. Muito gorda, tem dificuldade para se mover. Mesmo assim, não descuida da aparência: alisa bem o vestido sobre as pernas esticadas, penteia-se com esmero e passa batom com pelo menos frequência – sempre que recebe a visita do delegado Espinosa. E o delegado Espinosa visita Princesa várias vezes por dia. Afinal, tudo indica que ela viu quem enfiou uma faca no homem muito branco, talvez um estrangeiro, que amanheceu morto na calçada a alguns metros dela. Mas Princesa costuma sonhar, às vezes até quando está acordada… E como saber, nesta vida, o que é realidade e o que se passa no mundo dos sonhos?
Isaías é o grande amigo de Princesa. Ele sabe que a amiga viu alguma coisa que não deve ser lembrada. Acredita que precisa proteger a qualquer custo a moça dos perigos que podem surgir da noite – quando ela dorme sozinha na calçada – e do dia, quando os passantes são tantos que é difícil distinguir o inimigo que se aproxima para desferir um golpe. Como Princesa, Isaías é incapaz de lidar com o mundo complicado onde os dois vivem; como ela, é indefeso e vulnerável.

Are Latin America open ended crime fiction books a new genre?

Peter Rozovsky brought an interesting comment to my post: Interview with Luiz Alfredo García-Roza:

I like what he has to say about his crime stories being open texts. This goes somewhat against that old suggestion that crime novels restore a social order ruptured by crime.
But Garcia-Roza is just one among contemporary crime writers for whom mystery means more than just a puzzle to be solved
.”

I presume these are García-Roza words:

“… A murder is not a problem, or at least, it is not only a problem to be solved, but it is also an enigma, in the same sense that ancient Greeks conceived the enigma: something that holds the truth but also holds the shadow side of the sentence, the ambiguity and the silence. So, I hope my readers are left with a vivid sensation of an open story. The sense of the story is always given by the reader, not by the writer. The writer gives only the text, and the richness of a fictional text is its capacity to produce countless senses and meanings. There is no final meaning.”

This seems to me an interesting comment since some scholars propose a new name for this genre: Spanish American alternative detective fiction. For example in a paper called La novela policial alternativa en Hispanoamérica, Diego Trilles Paz writes:

Despite the great popularity and increased prestige of classic detective fiction, as well as the American hard-boiled novel, since their introduction in the nineteenth century many readers and authors have perceived them as genres incompatible with Latin American realities. The inherent conventions of the whodunit, the presence of a detective whose legitimacy is never in doubt, and its conservative ideology, which presupposed the punishment of criminality and the reestablishment of the status quo, were incongruous in societies in which people had no faith in justice. The genre, then, was regarded as unrealistic for third world countries. In this way, in order to be plausible, the detective novel in Latin America needed a different approach.

In broad terms, these pages propose the emergence of a new genre that can be observed in the works of contemporary authors such as Vicente Leñero’s Los albañiles (1963), Ricardo Piglia’s Nombre falso (1975), Jorge Ibargüengoitia’s Las muertas (1977) and, most notably, in Roberto Bolaño’s Los detectives salvajes (1998), which I consider the most prominent and complex example of this type. The present study examines how this innovative Spanish American detective fiction incorporates and restates some of the structures and conventions of the hard-boiled novel and shares some features of contemporary Spanish American fiction, while developing its own characteristics in contrast with both detective fiction schools. Due to the necessity of the native writers to adopt, formally and thematically, alternative approaches when creating credible detective stories, I have named this emergent genre: Spanish American alternative detective fiction.”

Although others like Franklin Rodriguez  The Bind Between Neopolicial and Antipolicial, called it Neopolicial:

Critics like Braham, and writers such as Paco Ignacio Taibo II and Leonardo Padura Fuentes, promote the notion of the neopoliciaco. This concept refers to the self-conscious appropriation of structures and elements from the detective genre and to how these appropriations can lead to the creation of original detective stories rather than literary parodies. The neopoliciaco focuses on political and social criticism of the State and society, organized in part around the events of 1968 in Mexico, the Cuban struggles, particularly after 1989, and the dictatorships in Latin America during the 1970s and 1980s. In the neopoliciaco the traditional central role of the detective or the criminal event is combined with an exhaustive examination of the struggles of communities and secondary characters, usually associated with marginal situations. The figure of the detective as restorer of order and executor of the law is inverted in favor of balanced questioning and exposition of all the characters or institutions involved in the crime.”

My question is: Do you see open ended crime fiction stories as a new genre? Is there a similar trend in other countries? Can you give examples of some open ended crime fiction books/writers?

Interview with Luiz Alfredo Garcia-Roza

I’d like to share with anyone who reads this blog the following interview with Luiz Alfredo Garcia-Roza. What caught my attention first was to discover that he published his first book when he was 60 years old. Click here.