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A Window in Copacabana: An Inspector Espinosa Mystery (Inspector Espinosa Mysteries) Paperback – January 24, 2006

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Cop killings never fail to excite interest--especially when, as in A Window in Copacabana, Luiz Alfredo Garcia-Roza's fourth slow-burning police procedural (after Southwesterly Wind), those murders are committed methodically and surgically, with "no passion, revenge, emotion: cold as ice." As Espinosa, the uncommonly thoughtful chief of Rio de Janeiro's 12th Precinct, postulates, "Whoever killed them was hired by someone. And furthermore, the real criminal is trying to send a message to other potential victims, a message that only they can understand."

It hardly matters that the three deceased officers weren't popular, or even well known. ("They're all cops who never stood out, who lived hidden lives, and who were as invisible and silent as their deaths.") The fact that each succumbed to "a single point-blank shot," coupled with suspicions that their slayings were somehow connected--by drug dealing, perhaps, or a bribery scheme--makes capturing their assassin crucial, not only to civic peacekeeping but to departmental morale. The stakes increase when those cops' mistresses start dropping violently, as well. Someone, it appears, wants to keep a tight lid on information that was shared between the policemen and their paramours. But who? And what, if anything, can be concluded from the subsequent, supposed suicide leap of a woman who was evidently mistaken by the killer for one of the cops' lovers? As Espinosa wades into the morass of avarice and secrecy at the core of this case, and begins to shed his preconceptions about the crimes, he's also distracted by a pair of young lovelies--one, the wife of a high-ranking government economist, obsessed with that dubious suicide; the other, a smart and resourceful ex-cabaret dancer on the run--whose attentions may do as much to foil his investigation as warm his heart.

Brazilian Garcia-Roza is a patient plotter, exposing each new development with the deceptive indifference of an exotic dancer shedding veils, knowing just how to build and maintain anticipation. And in Espinosa he has found his ideal partner in crime, a clever, compassionate, and oddly bookish, 40-something cop reconciled to the manifold disappointments of life and serene in the face of human tragedy. Although this author denies his cops, other than Espinosa, much depth of personality, A Window in Copacabana's Hitchcockian twists, sensual atmosphere, and unwillingness to deliver clichéd "perfect" justice in the end all make it an excellent entry in one of the coolest, most captivating crime series going. --J. Kingston Pierce --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

When three cops are found shot in the head in separate incidents in Garcia-Roza's sultry fourth Brazilian noir (after 2004's Southwesterly Wind), the chief of Rio's 12th precinct, Inspector Espinosa, suspects a single gunman. There are no witnesses, but from her dressing room window, Serena, a government official's elegant wife, sees a purse flung from a window across the street, soon followed by a woman who falls 10 stories to her death. The apparent suicide victim is identified as Celeste, the mistress of one of the murdered policemen. Obsessed with the dead woman, and having money and time, Serena rents Celeste's apartment in an effort to figure out why the tragedy occurred. Meanwhile, Espinosa sets up a special confidential task force reporting to him alone to investigate the crimes. The task force points to corruption in the police department and a coverup, since the three cops all led double lives, but what was at stake? For the mordantly witty, book-loving Espinosa, integrity is paramount. If his involvement leads to inevitable loss, he has the consolation of another job well done. Fans of sophisticated crime fiction with an exotic locale are in for a treat.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Series: Inspector Espinosa Mysteries (Book 4)
  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Picador; Reprint edition (January 24, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 031242566X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312425661
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,631,219 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Debra Hamel VINE VOICE on April 19, 2005
Format: Hardcover
The three policemen found shot to death execution-style over the course of a few hot summer days in Rio de Janeiro had more in common than the circumstances of their deaths. Each of the men, importantly, had had sufficient cash to support a mistress and keep a separate apartment intended for their assignations--a sure sign that the officers had been on the take. Investigating their deaths and the corruption that may have led to the murders is the unhappy task of Detective Espinosa, chief of Rio's 12th district, a somewhat melancholy character who tries vainly to combat the encroaching boredom of his increasingly routine work by walking to and from his apartment by different routes.

Given its challenges, Espinosa's latest case provides at least a temporary respite from tedium, particularly when the mistresses of the dead policemen prove to be in peril themselves. Two of the three women are murdered at once, and Espinosa undertakes to protect the third. One woman's death--she falls from a tenth-floor window--is witnessed by a neighbor watching from her apartment across the street, a happenstance which provides the police with one of their few clues and gives author Garcia-Roza his book's title.

A Window in Copacabana, translated into English from the original Portuguese, is the fourth book in Garcia-Roza's Detective Espinosa series. The peculiar circumstances of the murders under investigation and the surprising identity of the killer make the novel a good mystery. But what sets the book apart is the mood it sets--the languid air of a city in the tropics--and the philosophical, bibliophilic Espinosa, whose character emerges slowly, without fanfare, as the story progresses. Mystery readers, and anyone enticed by a Copacabana setting, should give the series a look.

Reviewed by Debra Hamel, author of Trying Neaira: The True Story of a Courtesan's Scandalous Life in Ancient Greece
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Anne Lowney on March 10, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this novel. It has all the components one wants in a mystery: interesting and well developed characters, exotic setting, and a plot that is a surprise without any contrivance or lack of credibility. The narrative is very well written and involves both suspense and crime detection. It also delves into personal relationships and soul searching. Overall it's an excellent mystery.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Judy K. Polhemus VINE VOICE on March 27, 2008
Format: Paperback
"A Window in Copacabana" is unlike any other police crime story; Inspector Espinosa is unlike other chiefs of precincts. The story is set in Copacabana, Rio de Janeiro in Brazil.

How this novel differs from others is its shocking absence of description. I have often heard readers say that they didn't complete certain books because of too much description or others say they skip it. On the other hand, I love description because it takes me into another place or another time. Without it, this novel could have been set in my city, except for the beach and the neighborhood names--Copacabana being the notable one. When Espinosa walks down the streets, I can picture certain streets in my city that have ethnic flair. This lack of description is certainly not a deleterious factor, but it is an odd one.

Written by "distinguished academic" Luiz Alfredo Garcia-Roza, the novel indeed reflects the academic mind in its studied logic and understated contemplative thinking demonstrated by Espinosa. In fact, the critic from Amazon likened Garcia-Roza's style to Hitchcock in the use of that subtle yet maddening building of suspense. The danger just oozes out from the pages, yet we never see it. The story ends with the guilty person evading punishment--for now. For we know Insp. Espinosa is on the case.

The story revolves around the murder, execution-style, of three ordinary, unobtrusive police officers, followed by the murder of two of their three mistresses. The third eludes murder by hiding and seeking Espinosa's help. (Perhaps the acquisition of mistresses with no one, not even the wives, blinking is a characteristic of Brazilian culture. This does not seem to be common in my city!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Luan Gaines HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on August 19, 2006
Format: Paperback
One after another, three policemen are murdered in Rio, throwing the force into an uproar. Soon after, their mistresses are targeted for death. Clearly an assassin is at work, obliterating any evidence of conspiracy between the policemen and their mistresses. Head of the 12th Precinct, Inspector Espinoza soon scents the odor of corruption and assembles a task force of a select few. When the murder of the third mistress is averted only by mistaken identity, Espinoza is determined to uncover whatever corruption pollutes his department, find the killer and protect the third woman, who remains at large, hiding from her would-be assailant with Espinoza's help. A phone call brings another woman into the picture, a witness who saw the last victim fall from the window of her apartment. Unfortunately, the witness, a diplomat's wife, thinks she may have been observed by the murderer, making her another potential victim.

Things come in threes for Espinoza, three policemen, three females killed, and the three woman suddenly in his life: his lover, Irene; Celeste, the victim who escaped; and the seductive witness, Serena. Irene has long been Espinoza's love interest, a woman who fascinates the inspector, but the other two have come to his attention through the spate of recent murders. Faced with a complicated mystery that doesn't bode well for the 12th precinct or the police department in general, the need to protect the innocent and a recent concern for the direction of his days, Espinoza is kept busy in both his personal and professional life. A thorough and logical detective, the inspector is more than capable of solving the murders with the help of his trusted assistants, deconstructing the crimes and separating the guilty from the innocent.
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