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Saturday, August 18, 2007
Department of Book Reports 29: A Small Death in Lisbon
Posted by SeattleDan
Robert Wilson’s A Small Death in Lisbon (Berkley $7.99) has long been a favorite recommendation of Pacific Northwest Booksellers for sometime now. Somehow I have put off reading it until now, and I’m sorry I’ve waited so long. It is a superb thriller, and, to use the oft’ used cliché, a page-turner.
Wilson deftly interweaves two narratives. In the first, Ze Coelho, a Homicide Inspector, narrates his own 1998 investigation of the murder of the young and promiscuous daughter of a prominent Portuguese attorney. In the second, and told by an omniscient narrator, the German businessman, Klaus Felsen, is impressed into the SS in 1941 and assigned to go to Portugal in order to obtain as much wolfram, a metal used to make armor-penetrating weaponry, as possible. Although we know that the stories must intersect at some point, we really don’t know how until we are much closer to the novel’s climax. But Wilson leaves subtle clues and guessing is much of the fun.
All the moral complexities of the great thrillers are present. The connections between Nazi Germany and Fascist Portugal are explored. Felsen is slowly, yet inexorably, driven to acts of savagery. Coelho, having grown up during the fascist Salazar regime, has to deal with the many changes Portugal has undergone since 1974. Duplicity and betrayal are constant themes. And ultimately, it seems that history is no more than a series of acts of vengeance.
Though in the end, the loose ends are tied, we are aware that life is not simple; that even if we think we know all the answers, we probably don’t; and to paraphrase Hamlet, “The rest is madness”.
And Now, our big announcement: Jackson Street Books has a blogspot! We will be using this as our primary website so drop on by and say Hi! sometime.
As always, Jackson Street Books would love to mail you a copy of A Small Death in Lisbon, and it is available at Fine Independent Bookstores everywhere.
We can't decide! Help us by doing your patriotic duty and VOTE for your Favorite Darwin Award™ Failure in the comments. You can view the full entries here. Here are the candidates:
So, I got out the ShopVac™
Of course, that was throwing myself into another pit of snakes
Trust me, if you knew her
~Bukko in Australia
In the immortal last words of all Darwin Award winners; "Hey, y'all! Watch this!"
hitch hike speedboat rides on the upper Potomac River
Good thing I had flip-flops on at the time
Didn't just slip off of the rope, oh, no. Didn't just fall on me bum.
~Anntichrist S. Coulter
really nice double-barrelled shotgun, which has the barrels exploded
Rolling Rock and sleds do not go well together
So we decided to put a silver salute into the neck of one of those old 7 oz Coke™ bottles
I came across a 6" diameter lodgepole whose roots were completely burned out
And a late entry from: And lucky to be alive.
Tell us here in the comments who should win
The Darwin Awards™ DVD plus Darwin Awards™ T-shirt and movie poster!
The Darwin Awards™ DVD and movie poster!
Consolation Prizes to all non-winning entrants: Contact Jackson Street Books for your grab bag of other publisher swag!
P.S. Is anyone else going to Hempfest? I'll be there, spying on the dirty hippies and wearing the colors.~SeattleTammy!