The Silence of the Rain by Luiz Alfredo Garcia-Roza

silence of the rainThe Silence of the Rain by Luiz Alfredo Garcia-Roza
Translated by Benjamin Moser
Henry Holt, 2002
Originally published as O silêncio da chuva, 1996

I picked up this first novel in the Inspector Espinosa series as I’m in the final stretch of the 2013 Global Reading Challenge, and this is my first Brazilian crime novel. Espinosa works in Rio in a corrupt police department, which makes for an interesting set-up as he investigates the apparent murder of a wealthy executive in a parking garage. Several other crimes follow, and, interestingly enough, we as readers know that the executive actually killed himself. This doesn’t feel like a police procedural because Espinosa spends most of his time investigating in a roundabout fashion by himself, and sometimes he’s accompanied by Detective Welber.

Espinosa is an interesting character: age forty-two, divorced, a wanna-be bookstore owner, a man who relies on contemplative times in a crowded park by the port to determine which way to proceed in his investigation. It’s not an entirely rational or scientific approach, which makes the story entertaining. The hypotheses–or fantasies as Espinosa calls them– can go on a bit long in parts, but I think that is in part because we know that he’s investigating a suicide and coverup instead of a murder. I believe part of his approach is his coping mechanism for working within a police department he doesn’t trust, though he hasn’t left the force in 22 years.

The book touches on class issues (Carvalho, the deceased, is quite wealthy and his secretary who disappears is not) as well as how the police are viewed by the people of Rio (it’s a rare crime novel that admits that police are known to rough up the public) and how pointless some investigations are. Carvalho is not missed, the investigation does not proceed well, and there is a certain amount of a lack of resolution of the plot in the end. It’s not a frustrating ending, but it is not a neat and tidy one.

I borrowed this book from the library.

Other reviews appear in Confessions of a Mystery Novelist, Bitter Tea and Mystery, and Finding Time to Write.

14 thoughts on “The Silence of the Rain by Luiz Alfredo Garcia-Roza

  1. Rebecca – Thanks for the kind mention. You have a fine review here. I agree completely about the way the novel treats class issues as well as issues regarding public perception of the police. I also really like Espinosa’s character. He’s a bit of a philosopher, but I don’t think the novel is burdened with that. And I love the fact that he likes books. 🙂

  2. Very nice review. Thanks for mentioning my review. I was very fond of this novel and look forward to reading more in the series in 2014. I need to read books from other South American countries but I have found two series set in Brazil that I like, so I may just stick with those for a while.

    • You’re welcome, Tracy! I’ve yet to start Leighton Gage, but he’s definitely on my list. I think 2014 will by my year of getting back to series I started this year 🙂

  3. I have this on the TBR pile after reading Tracy’s review earlier in the year. I can’t recall too much Brazilian crime that’s crossed my paths to date. Copacabana – earlier this year, but that was from an outsiders perspective and featured mainly ex-pats. Hopefully I’ll read this soon.

  4. I like Espinosa and this series very much. This reminds me to get back to it someday.
    Maybe the resolution isn’t sewed up perfectly, but it’s the journey and the introspection that’s interesting.

    • I liked both the journey and the introspection in this one, Kathy, and now I’m reading something faster paced: Behind the Night Bazaar, which is very good so far!

  5. I have read all three published books by Angela Savage starring Jayne Keeney. I love them, can’t put them down when I’m in the middle of one, tasks go undone. Then I’m googling the flora and fauna mentioned to find out more. I learn a lot about Thailand through Savage’s writing, and then on the Internet.
    In addition, Jayne is one cool character. A bit like V.I. Warshawski without the dogs, car, neighbor, and in Thailand, not Chicago.

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