A Small Death in Lisbon

Robert Wilson, Author Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH) $25 (448p) ISBN 978-0-15-100609-0
The real star of this gripping and beautifully written mysteryDwhich won the British Crime Writers' Golden Dagger Award for Best Crime Novel last yearDis Portugal, whose history and people come to life on every page. Wilson tells two stories: the investigation into the brutal sex murder of a 15-year-girl in 1998, and the tangled, bloody saga of a financial enterprise that begins with the Nazis in 1941. Although the two stories seem unrelated, both are so strong and full of fascinating characters that readers' attentionDand their faith that they will eventually be connectedDshould never waver. The author creates three compelling protagonists: middle-aged detective Jose Coelho, better known as Ze; Ze's late British wife, whom he met while exiled in London with his military officer father during the anti-Salazar political uprisings of the 1970s; and Ze's wise, talented and sexually active 16-year-old daughter. The first part of the WWII story focuses on an ambitious, rough-edged but likeable Swabian businessman, Klaus Felsen, convinced by the Gestapo to go to Portugal and seize the lion's share of that country's supply of tungsten, vital to the Nazi war effort. Later, we meet Manuel Abrantes, a much darker and more dangerous character, who turns out to be the main link between the past and the present. As Ze sifts through the sordid circumstances surrounding the murder of the promiscuous daughter of a powerful, vindictive lawyer, Wilson shines a harsh light on contemporary Portuguese society. Then, in alternating chapters, he shows how and why that society developed. All this and a suspenseful mysteryDwho could ask for more? (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 10/02/2000
Release date: 10/01/2000
Genre: Fiction
Discover what to read next
TIP SHEET
MORE BOOKS YOU'D LIKE
X
X