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Window in Copacabana by Luiz Alfredo Garcia-Roza

Publisher: Picador  ISBN: 031242566X

Reviewed by Robin Thomas, New Mystery Reader

Window in Copacabana is a fantastic police procedural mystery that has a dark and sultry tone.  Three policemen have been killed in Copacabana, Rio de Janeiro and what is odd about the case are the things that the cops have in common.  All three have mediocre records and maintain homes for their families as well as their mistresses.  They were each killed by a single bullet fired at point-blank range with surgical precision. 

12th Precinct Inspector Espinosa leads the investigation but he has no leads.  Then the serial killer starts to prey on the mistresses of the murdered policemen.  Two are killed but the third survives due to a case of mistaken identity.  Espinosa is intent on finding Celeste Cardoso, the mistress that survives, because she is his only lead in the case.  The hunt for Celeste turns up a witness to the botched killing.  Serena Rodes, who is the wife of the senior government official, confirms that the woman who falls to her death from a window was not a suicide but was murder.  Espinosa becomes romantically involved with both of the women as the case continues.  The question is will he remain faithful to Irene, the woman he has been seeing off and on, or will one of these women get in him in bed before he solves the case? 

Additionally, Inspector Espinosa is struggling with some pretty heavy issues of his own.  He has become cynical about the profession that he loves and he wonders if it is time to retire.  He dreams of opening a used book store and stocking the shelves with the thousands of books that he inherited from his grandmother. 

Inspector Espinosa is a complex and haunting character much like Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer.  The plot is intriguing and takes many unexpected twists and turns.    Window in Copacabana is the fourth book in the Espinosa series and is one of the best police procedural books that I have read that.  I most highly recommend this book as a outstanding read. 


Vodka by Boris Starling

Publisher: Onyx ISBN: 0451412060

Reviewed by Narayan Radhakrishnan, New Mystery Reader

The book blurb caught my attention at the outset- “a worthy successor to Gorky Park”-. I was enamored by Martin Cruz Smith’s Gorky Park and engrossed by the movie, (I believe starring Lee Marvin), so with a blurb like this it was natural for me to delve into Boris Starling’s Vodka- and I was not disappointed. Rarely does a fiction thriller set in Russia- that’s not a Commie bashing novel- hit the market and very rarely does such a novel give good reading pleasure. Boris Starling, author of Messiah and Storm, with Vodka succeeds in both grounds- Vodka is a fantastic thriller, totally rooted in reality that will provide interesting reading to connoisseurs of political thrillers.

The year is 1991. The USSR is no more and Russia has come back to life. It is here that Alice Liddell arrives to take charge of Moscow’s largest distillery, Red October. Privatization is still a new concept to Muscovites, and there is mistrust and apprehension in the air. Liddell knows that the job is not easy but never had she imagined it would be soooooooooooo hard. There is another revolution within the distillery between the distillery's Mafia boss Lev and his Chechen enemies. Though Liddell and Lev are at loggerheads, there is a growing attraction between the two, that both find hard to resist. Liddell has her own set of problems, a recovering alcoholic, she finds herself being mesmerized by vodka, and she fears that all is going back to square one. It is in this background the novel progresses. At the same time we are also introduced to Juku Irk, an Estonian detective, investigating a series of child murders. What follows is gritty action culminating in an exciting and chilling finish- but that’s totally rooted in reality.

Enjoyed the book. This is the first Boris Starling work I am reading, and definitely, it won’t be the last one. Highly recommended.



Beneath a Panamanian Moon By David Terrenoire

Publisher: St. Martin's Minotaur ISBN: 0312321317 

Reviewed by Marcus Brandt, New Mystery Reader

Beneath a Panamanian Moon is the story of an ex-government sleuth who gets (reluctantly) drawn out of retirement in order to uncover some mysterious goings-on in so-called independent Panama.  This book is a fine first effort, and almost completely free of mannerism and self-conscious “style” that affects so many of these kinds of books. I found the characters to be realistic, both the good and the bad guys, with a certain sense of humor evident throughout the story that laughs at human foibles and seems to have a real consciousness for the way the world really works. 

There is also quite a bit of humorous storytelling going on, and the main character is very likable in his self-effacing manner and almost impeccable fatalism. I was really able to picture all the Panamanian settings, from ritzy hotel to brothel, from straight laced Army base to guerilla hideout. Kind of an action adventure novel in a way but also with characters and situations so interestingly drawn that this book could appeal to many different kinds of readers.  Maybe the best I’ve read in a long time.