Alone in the Crowd by Luiz Alfredo Garcia-Roza
Like your mysteries short and dark? Then check out the Brazilian Inspector Espinosa series. These novels are usually less than 250 pages and they are artfully crafted. On the one hand I wish they were longer, but on the other, their succinctness and the directness of the writing, is what makes them such great reads.
In Alone in the Crowd an elderly woman goes to the local police station and asks to speak to the Chief, who is our main character Espinosa. She is told that he is in a meeting, so she leaves and states she’ll be back later. Unfortunately she never gets to meet with Espinosa – she is struck and killed by a city bus. While no one saw her get pushed, witnesses agree that she was pushed into the path of an oncoming bus.
Even more interesting than Espinosa’s character is the prime suspect in this mystery, a man who enjoys being in the center of crowds – either on the streets or stuffed into a subway car. He never talks to anyone, or does anything inappropriate, he just enjoys being alone in the crowd.
It’s cool to hear about places you only hear of in songs like Copacabana and Ipanema. Since the character has lived in Rio de Janiero his whole live you can hear how the neighborhoods have changed over time for better and for worse. His books are recent history lessons as well as travelogues of a really vibrant and interesting city.