LUIZ ALFREDO GARCIA-ROZA – The Silence of the Rain. Picador, trade paperback reprint, July 2003. Hardcover edition: Henry Holt & Co., July 2002.


   This moody sort of detective novel was first published in Brazil and translated from the Portuguese, and to start matters off in the right direction right from the beginning, I highly recommend it to you.

   It begins in a mildly light-hearted fashion, as a mix-up over a wealthy executive’s suicide in a parking garage leads Inspector Espinosa of Rio de Janeiro’s First Precinct into handling the case as though it were a murder.

   (Not unlike Columbo of TV fame here in this country, we are privy to certain events that Espinosa is not, and even by the end of the case he is still running through endless speculations as to what actually happened.)

   The mood becomes gradually edgier, though, until page 121, which is where the reader is confronted with the realization, rather forcibly, that this is no cozy, and never was. Reading mysteries taking place in other countries also makes you realize that the rules are often totally different. Here’s a quote from page 161:

   I left thinking about the paradox: I trusted the information I could get from lowlife street gamblers but was wary of that same information in the hands of my fellow policemen. The worst was that I didn’t even know exactly how much I distrusted them, but one of the things I’d learned from a life on the force was not to confide in other officers.

   And from page 238:

   Espinosa called the precinct from the hospital No news. They kept reiterating that it was an isolated kidnapping, not related to the “normal kidnappings in the city.” Espinosa was stunned by the phrase: how could cops talk about “normal kidnappings”? Were there normal kidnappings and abnormal kidnappings?

   Espinosa is, the dead man’s widow decides, a rare bird, a cultivated policeman. He is attracted to her. She is so wealthy she does not seem to notice. Espinosa is a reader of Dickens and Thomas De Quincey, is afflicted by loneliness and self-doubts, and he is also better than decent as a reader of character.

   Complicating matters is the million-dollar life insurance policy the dead man had recently taken out, followed by the disappearance of his secretary Rose.

   Besides an almost other-worldly atmosphere and surroundings, there are enough twists and turns of the ensuing plot to keep any detective story buff more than satisfied, even with the aforementioned Colombo-like prologue.

   There is also an ending I know I’ve never read before — I couldn’t possibly have forgotten a scene like this, and if you read the book, as I’m strongly suggesting, you won’t either.

   And yes, the telling of tale does switch back and forth between first person and third. Just in case you were wondering!

— July 2003

       The Inspector Espinosa series —

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)