Monday, October 24, 2011

South American Novels

The Silence of the Rain
by: Luiz Alfredo Garcia-Roza

This crime novel is the first book of fiction that Garcai-Roza wrote.  He is an academic and a novelist, “late in life” as he says, having written this book at the age of 60.  In an interview he gave which is on the web site,, he says that crime and sexuality form the basic part of our psychological structure.  If you could only use two words to describe his novels, the words would be, crime and sexuality.  The main character, Espinosa, is a Brazilian policeman, living in Rio, “a public employee, a middle age person and a solitary man,” and in Garcia-Roza’s words, “a man with a critical mind and a romantic heart.”  Garcia-Roza also wanted to write about an ethical policeman.  In Brazil’s not-too-distant and repressive past, policemen were viewed as corrupt and not-to-be trusted and today Brazil still has a police force contaminated by the past, according to Garcia-Roza.

With this background in mind, the story begins with a suicide, but because of wrong conclusions, the suicide is treated as a murder.  Enter Espinosa, the main character, an honest policeman.  The story switches from third person to first person and back to third person.  We walk in Espinosa’s shoes as he covers the streets of Rio, which are described in detail; you feel the heat, see the shopkeepers, share Espinosa’s dinners which consist mainly of take-out.  He is divorced and through Garcia-Roza’s writing the intimacy and loneliness of Espinosa’s life are apparent.

Espinosa is unrelenting in trying to uncover the crime despite not much support from a corrupt police force and not much in the way of technological forensic help.  There is a beautiful widow to whom Espinosa is attracted, a $1-million insurance policy, two more murders, and a surprise ending that does not quite end the story.