(Reviewed by Jana L. Perskie JAN 29, 2006)
Pursuit is an unusually intelligent and original psychological suspense thriller involving multiple murders - I was never quite sure as to how many until the end. The narrative is written in leisurely, almost dreamlike sequences, perhaps a reflection of the exotic tropical setting, Rio de Janeiro. Brazilian author Luiz Alfredo Garcia-Roza's plot and style are almost surreal, emphasized by the refreshing lack of violent action and bloody imagery one would expect given the total number of corpses at the novel's conclusion.
Our protagonist, Chief Inspector Espinosa of the Copacabana police, would much rather own a used-book store and spend time collecting first editions and reading his stock than supervising detectives and running-down leads on suspected and known criminals. He is sensitive, yet cynical. Divorced, and alone for many years, he has now found a somewhat younger woman, Irene, a graphic artist, who understands and enjoys his quirkiness.
Espinosa is interrupted, while enjoying the last few days of his vacation, by a phone call from psychiatrist Artur Nesse. A colleague had given Nesse the Chief Inspector's name, and the doctor does not feel comfortable, at this point, talking with anyone else about his problem. His seventeen year-old daughter has disappeared...was kidnapped, so he says. How does he know she has been kidnapped? "It's obvious," he replies.
A new patient, Isadoro Cruz, an attractive young man who insists his real name is Jonas even though some folks call him Isadoro, appears to be more intent on stalking Nesse than seeking his professional help. Jonas/Isadoro actually does not believe he needs psychiatric treatment, and his purpose for meeting with the doctor is to "resolve a personal matter." Jonas sits on a bench, daily, under a mango tree, easily seen from Nesse's office window. He is charming and quickly makes friends with the hospital staff and patients. He also makes friends, good friends, with Leticia Nesse, the doctor's oldest daughter. Leticia and Jonas go missing. Thus the disappearance/kidnapping and the need for police intervention - from the perspective of Dr. Arturo Nesse.
Garcia-Roza tells his tale in three parts - Story Number One, Number Two and Number Three - an extremely effective device to unfold a plot this complex. At times the reader is not readily able to distinguish fact from fantasy, nor figure out who is the stalker and who is being pursued, who is psychotic from who is sane. Espinosa reflects: "There was something in Dr.Nesse's story that didn't sound quite right. Or maybe that wasn't it, but several things, different things, were off. Maybe that was the problem: too much information. There were several different stories, each of which made sense, but together they didn't add up."
As the characters wander through the different neighborhoods of Rio - Copacabana, Ipanema, beautiful beaches, boutiques and gourmet restaurants, the growing favelas, (slums), are juxtaposed with the lush wealth of this famous city. Crime, poverty and social injustice are exposed as is the bribery and corruption in the police department - all making a dramatic backdrop to this bizarre mystery.
I was given my copy of Pursuit to read and review. I really enjoyed the novel and characters enough to go out and purchase the other books, (I believe there are four), in the Inspector Espinosa Mystery series. Pursuit is definitely a Five Star read. Although Espinosa is a strong personality, his life, activities and cohorts take a back seat to the mystery. I like this too - lots! If I want to read a mystery/suspense thriller, that is what I am looking to read - not a soap opera about the mainstay characters in a series.
Luiz Alfredo Garcia-Roza is a distinguished academic and best selling novelist who lives in Rio De Janiero. The Espinosa series has been translated into six different languages. I highly recommend this latest addition.
- Amazon readers rating: from 8 reviews
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Bibliography: (with links to Amazon.com)
- The Silence of the Rain (2002)
- December Heat (2003)
- Southwesterly Wind (January 2004)
- A Window in Copacabana (January 2005)
- Pursuit (January 2006)
- Blackout (August 2008)
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- Absolute Write interview with Luiz Alfredo Garcia-Roza
- SF Gate review of The Silence of the Rain
- The Book Haven review of A Window in Copacabana
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About the Author:
Luiz Alfredo Garcia-Roza was born in Rio de Janeiro. He is a scientist, philosopher and psychiatrist and writes murder mysteries featuring psychological types and problems.
Garcia-Roza is a Professor of Philosophy at Rio University in Brazil. He lives in Rio de Janeiro.