cover image Bellini and the Sphinx

Bellini and the Sphinx

Tony Bellotto, trans. from the Brazilian Portuguese by Clifford E. Landers. Akashic, $15.99 trade paper (224p) ISBN 978-1-61775-662-7

This detective novel from Brazilian author Bellotto (editor of São Paulo Noir), the first in his Remo Bellini series, starts off strong but falls flat in its overly familiar execution. Remo’s boss, the Tiperillo smoking Dora Lobo, calls him in to meet pediatric surgeon Samuel Rafidjian. The married doctor wants to find Ana Cíntia Lopes, a dancer from the Dervish, a São Paulo night club, whom he has been seeing for several months. Ana has disappeared, and no one at the Dervish claims to know her, let alone knows where she’s gone. Bellini takes on the case, but things take a deadly turn when Rafidjian ends up gruesomely murdered with his own umbrella. Who is responsible for his death, and how is it related to the missing Ana? In standard PI mode, Bellini drinks too much, listens to the blues, and isn’t above breaking the law to get what he wants. Worse, the dialogue lacks the sharp grittiness of the hardboiled fiction of Hammett or Chandler—Bellotto’s obvious influences—and the ending feels pulled out of thin air. Hopefully, book two will show more originality. [em](Feb.) [/em]