The Racket

Anita Mason, Author Dutton Books $19.95 (224p) ISBN 978-0-525-93351-9
Weighty moral questions of good and evil buttress this brooding narrative set in contemporary Brazil. A letter to the Washington Post protesting the treatment of that country's Indians sets in motion a complex, somewhat disjointed series of events in which a lone woman's starched integrity is illuminated against a background of cynical compromise and pervasive corruption. The admonitory epistle is written by Rosa Van Meurs, freethinking daughter of an esteemed anthropologist, who teaches an inspired brand of history in backwater Florianopolis. Her act angers a greasy politician who prefers that his interest in a gold mine near Indian land go unexamined. While barbs are flung at Rosa from this direction, more danger comes when her spineless cousin Fabio, a consummate liar fleeing the service of a violent racketeer, washes up at her apartment. Mason ( The Illusionist ) imaginatively paints such fantastical scenes as Fabio's cataloguing of a museum of grisly votive offerings. Evocative detail immerses the reader in the decaying social fabric of Brazil. Yet the narrative unevenly slows and speeds, catching, then losing the reader's interest, and the subtle shades of the moral code propounded here are simplistically resolved in the denouement. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 09/02/1991
Release date: 09/01/1991
Hardcover - 192 pages - 978-0-09-470050-5
Open Ebook - 212 pages - 978-1-4482-0900-2
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