Melo (The Killer) is a promising literary crime novelist, one of a new crop of Brazilian suspense writers that includes Rubem Fonseca. In her second book, she focuses on the career of Jos Guber, a bottom-rung hack who rips off classic detective story plots and turns them into pulp fiction for a second-rate publishing house run by a philistine named Wilmer da Silva. Researching a plot involving death by snakebite, Jos meets Melissa at a serology laboratory. Melissa, fervent about all things reptilian, soon becomes Jos 's lover, sealing her passion by giving him an illegal boa constrictor. Jos knows Melissa is married, but what he doesn't know is that she is becoming rich defying Brazilian law and dealing venom on the black market. Convincing Jos that her husband Ronald beats her (which is not true), Melissa persuades him to participate in her scheme to kill Ronald, with the help of a deadly jararaca. To her dismay, Ronald merely loses a leg, while distracted Jose loses his job. But his former boss's secretary, Ingrid, has always liked Jos , and she helps him find work as a corny self-help writer. When Jos realizes that supportive Ingrid is more his kind of lady than the cunning Melissa, the spurned woman shows her fangs. Melo saturates her prose with literary references, effectively intellectualizing what is at heart a zesty suspense novel with a kinky, unpredictable murderess. Jos as a ""babe-magnet"" is unconvincing, but he's hilarious when submitting his book ""outlines"" to Wilmer. Melo keeps the tale oscillating between morbid intrigue and hilarity, deftly skewering the publishing industry in the process. (Sept.) FYI: The Killer won the French Prix Deux Ocean and the German Deutscher Krimi Preis.
Reviewed on: 08/30/1999 Release date: 09/01/1999 Genre: Fiction