Posts Tagged ‘Rio de Janeiro’


December Heat by Luiz Alfredo Garcia-Roza. Henry Holt and Company, 2003.

I follow a few different detective series and am always on the lookout for someone new and interesting. I read about Luiz Alfredo Garcia-Roza’s Inspector Espinosa mysteries in a book review in the Globe and Mail, and thought I’d give him a try. December Heat happened to be the title available at the local library, and the exotic-sounding title appealed to me. Heat in December, certainly not something Ontarians expect. I like the cover photograph as well, the city of Rio de Janeiro at night, as seen from the beach.

Garcia-Roza’s Inspector Espinosa, a middle-aged man, certainly has a great deal of company in the ranks of detective fiction. Even on television there are any number of entries in the division. In British series currently available alone, Chief Inspector Tom Barnaby of Midsomer Murders, Inspector Morse, and Jack Frost of A Touch of Frost spring to mind. Given Garcia-Roza’s setting, I was expecting something more like an Italian series, Donna Leon’s Commissario Brunetti, maybe, or perhaps Andrea Camilleri’s Inspector Montalbano.

Sadly, Inspector Espinosa is no match for either of those great Italian detectives. The character of Espinosa is not well-developed. We learn very little about him, although it is possible that Garcia-Roza fleshes out his character over the course of several novels. In this investigation, Espinosa falls for a young woman showing her art work on the street and their relationship and that of an old, retired policeman with a young prostitute seemed to enter into the realm of male fantasy.

The story begins with the murder of a prostitute and the loss of a wallet containing a retired policeman’s ID. Garcia-Rosa takes a brief look at the lives of street children, as one such youngster, who witnessed the theft of the wallet, is threatened. Espinosa’s investigation seeks to link the initial death with subsequent events. In the end, the author takes the easy way out: it seems the murder isn’t linked to the theft at all.

I did enjoy some elements of this story but probably wouldn’t seek out sequels based on this entry in series. On the other hand, I could see the story benefitting form the visuals of television. Inspector Espinosa might make a better detective on TV than he does in print.

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