A Small Death in Lisbon BOOKRAY

by Robert Wilson | Mystery & Thrillers |
ISBN: 0425184234 Global Overview for this book
Registered by Seferim of Columbia, Maryland USA on 6/11/2003
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9 journalers for this copy...
Journal Entry 1 by Seferim from Columbia, Maryland USA on Wednesday, June 11, 2003
Small Death in Lisbon was a great story--actually two stories intertwined. One of them takes place in modern-day Lisbon and follows the investigation of a murdered teenager. The other story starts in Germany during WWII. The stories finally converge around page 400, but by this time I had already become bored with the WWII story, and found myself skimming the chapters, wanting to get back to the modern story. But, by the time the stories did converge, I loved the outcome. I thought it was a great mystery/suspense novel.

I am looking forward to other books by Wilson. I really liked the characters in the book. Coehlo's first person narrative was so strong, you could really feel his struggles and frustations.

I am sending this book out as a bookray. I hope others enjoy it! There is still time to get on the list... you can PM me if you are interested!

Book was mailed to FFlloorr on June 27th

Participants:
FFlloorr (Portugal)
tho (Portugal)
BlossomU (Portugal)
mady (Portugal)
Maria-Nunes (Portugal)
mfa (Portugal)
Xana (Portugal)
Zyana (Portugal) **Current Reader**
jcleto (Portugal)
Moimeme (Portugal)
Solimano (Italy)
zibeline (Portugal)
Lifthrasir (Portugal)
ESofista (Portugal)
Kiddie (Portugal)
MSO (Portugal)
Hawkette (Australia)
Wandeca (ON, CAN)
spaceystacey (NJ, US)
senorag (MS, US)
16stepper (AZ, US)
Jenvince (CA, US)

Journal Entry 2 by fflloorr from Lisboa - City, Lisboa (cidade) Portugal on Friday, July 04, 2003
Got it in the mail today and already started reading it. So far so good! :-)
Thanks a lot Seferim!

Journal Entry 3 by fflloorr from Lisboa - City, Lisboa (cidade) Portugal on Wednesday, August 20, 2003
What a great story! I really enjoyed the way the author mixed fiction with historical facts from the WW II. It was also rather nice to recognize some of the places and traditions of my country.
I can't resist quoting the definition of bica (Portuguese expresso café): «one-inch shot of caffeine which adrenalizes a few million Portuguese hearts every morning». I couldn't describe it better myself.
Thanks Seferim for organizing this ring!

Journal Entry 4 by tho on Friday, August 22, 2003
Received it from fflloorr yesterday - the ray has skipped a few people, but since they all seem to be on vacation, I get to read it first :-) Hopefully, I'll start reading it this weekend...

Journal Entry 5 by tho on Sunday, August 31, 2003
A very enjoyable thriller and murder mystery - I especially liked the fact that I could recognize so many of the places and expressions used in this book, somehow it made the story seem more real. At first, you can't really understand how the two stories share a connection, but once the pieces start fitting together (and it's more complex than you could think !) that's when it really gets interesting and you just can't stop reading and trying to guess who really commited the murder, and why.
The outcome is not at all predictable, at least it wasn't for me ! My favourite character was Olivia, Inspector Coelho's daugther - although not one of the main characters, I found her character strong and sometimes more sensible than her father :-)

The book will be passed to mfa this week.

Journal Entry 6 by BlossomU on Wednesday, September 03, 2003
And once again the Lisbon part of the bookray is a little jumbled, there was a mismatch in schedules in the hand-to.hand delivery and I ended up with this book because I was next in the bookray. I hope to be able to deliver it to mfa next wednesday!

And very glad I found the BCID, I searched all through the inside of the book and was nearly despairing when I finally found it in the cover right in front ..... Ouch!

Journal Entry 7 by BlossomU on Monday, September 08, 2003
I am very grateful for the oportunity for having read this book, Seferim, I had seen it before and was quite curious about it! But somehow, it did not quite live up to what I expected. It was an easy fast compelling read, but when i try to analyse I realize I did not think it particularly good. Very readable, an easy thrilling read, but not too good in my subjective opinion.

It was an interesting read, Lisbon-set stories are quite rarely written by foreigners. Wilson seems to get the geography quite right, but lots of other things a lot wrong ( quite maddeningly for a mistery novel besides names he does not seem to have a clue how the Judiciary Police or the court system work. He even has somebody condemned to "life emprisonement" in Portugal!) And yes, he does get a lot of the modern stuff weirdly wrong ( I can not judge the second world war scenes not having lived through it), it often feels just wrong or unnecessary ( like the refs to Grândola Vila Morena playing on the radio, I doubt they would have been awake normally at that hour), or gratuitous such as a a clef murder of Humberto Delgado.

And independently from the setting, I did not like the novel itself. Maybe I expected too much due to all the praise blurbs, and I was expecting Grahame Greene or at least Ruth Rendell, and it is very far from it. The psychology of the characters is never deeply developed ( Catarina, for example, never quite seems like a real person, she seems to be much more as an excuse for lots of sensational sex references.) and an awful lot of the book feels totally gratuitous, the number of rapes and sex scenes seem all quite amazing and a lot of them are totally unnecessary for the plot. And there is lots of the plot which seems to depend on coincidences or just plain melodrama.

And a science note here there is nothing unusual in brown eyes persons having a child with blue eyes, it's the other way around which is impossible. But the author does get that ( and a lot more) wrong.

Thanks again Seferim, I am sorry I did not enjoy this much , but I really wanted to read it and am grateful for the oportunity! I will be passing this along to mfa ( if she does not escape it yet again) in a couple days!

Journal Entry 8 by mady from Reading, Berkshire United Kingdom on Thursday, September 11, 2003
mfa has some other bookrings to read, Xana is too busy, so it was me who received the book yesterday from BlossomU - thx :D
I'm just finishing another bookring book and this will be next :) Thx Seferim for organizing this bookring!!

Journal Entry 9 by mady from Reading, Berkshire United Kingdom on Monday, September 22, 2003
Finished this one a couple of days ago, but only now I can access the Internet. thanks Seferim for letting me join this bookring!
I liked the book, but I found some "buts" while reading it - now I just checked BlossomU's notes on the book and I agree with some of them (the sex scenes, the blue eyes things - it is a scientifically possible that parents with brown eyes have a blue-eyed kid, even though it'd be more likely for the kid to be brown-eyed). About the story, in the beginning it was a bit hard to read as I was much more interested in one of the stories, but not so much in the other one, but when things started to fit, I became more enthralled. And the ending is unexpected. All in all it was quite interesting and I'm sure that this book involved a lot of research!
It was a nice experience to read a book writen by a foreign author set in Lisbon & Portugal (at least part of it), but it was strange to read dialogues that happened in Portuguese written in English, I mean, it was strange to think that it was actually Portuguese people talking. I kept imagining Inspector Zé Coelho as an English guy... There is also someone speaking Portuguese with Brazilian accent, but as far as I was concerned, the English language could not "translate" for me the difference of the accents, which is a pity. And since there are so many Portuguese expressions and words written on the book that are not translated, I wonder how can a non-Portuguese speaking person understand this book completely... I think it'd be more interesting to have these words translated...
And there's a typo on a date (besides some on Portuguese words): page 237 refers to 1955 and not 1995.
Since mfa still has other bookrings & bookrays to read, I'll try to pass this book to Xana asap :)

Journal Entry 10 by Maria-Nunes from Lisboa - City, Lisboa (cidade) Portugal on Friday, September 26, 2003
Got it last wednesday (24/9). just started reading...

Sorry for taking so long reading the book, but these have been very busy times in my life...
Anyway, I just finished it today (13/Nov) at lunch time break. And I am going to pass it later today. (I hope)
Thanks for the chance to read this book :-)



Journal Entry 11 by mfa from Lisboa - City, Lisboa (cidade) Portugal on Thursday, November 13, 2003
after a couple of false alarms, the book finally reached me. thanks, maria (and everybody else who intended to pass me the book at some stage)...

Journal Entry 12 by mfa from Lisboa - City, Lisboa (cidade) Portugal on Sunday, December 14, 2003
i have mixed feelings about this book.
on the one hand, although i usually do not enjoy mystery books that much, this one kept me thinking about what was going to happen. but at the end i thought too much happened - too much sex, too many coincidences, and a lot of easy literay tricks to catch the reader's attention.
and then there's lisbon... it took me a few years away to realise how special this city is, and i do believe it takes a "stranger" too see things the way they really are. i wonder if someone who's not familiar with the setiings won't be lost and bored amongst so much geography. but at the end i found wilson's account too clinical, if you know what i mean. too much detail, not enough feeling.
above all, i was mesmerised with a fictional account of the portuguese revolution. if you know what "mfa" stands for (it's the name the military who lead the revolution gave themselves), you'll understand why. therefore, i cannot really detach myself emotionally, and i do praise wilson's intentions and research. however very despcriptive of people's feelings towards what happened in 1974 and 1975 (my favourite character is, undoubtedly carlos), once again this book lacks feeling. and one cannot really get what's real and what's fictional. are the names the only thing that changed (humberto delgado and joão paulo dinis, for example)? is it important that one recognises the historical fact/person behind when that happens?
on the whole, and despite my personal attachment to the setting, this novel could never be described as great literature, simply because the whole plot develops from a wrong scientific fact (the blue eyes theory, as has been said before).
i'll hand it today to the person who told us all to join this bookray... thank you xana! and thank you seferim too.

Journal Entry 13 by Seferim from Columbia, Maryland USA on Sunday, December 14, 2003
You all are so lucky to have such a wonderful network of Bookcrossers in Portugal! I wish I had that here in the US! I love reading your comments on this bookray, they are very insightful and educational. Thanks to everyone that has signed up for this ray--I look forward to many more great journal entries!

Journal Entry 14 by Xana from Genève, Genève Switzerland on Sunday, December 14, 2003
Finally! I've been waiting for this one for a long time, just because I missed ONE of our weekly mini-meetings everybody went over me (sniff)...

Photo: 25 de Abril bridge, similar to the Golder Gate, in San Francisco.

Journal Entry 15 by Xana from Genève, Genève Switzerland on Thursday, January 08, 2004
Several times during the book I remembered a scene in Casablanca that goes something like this:
Rick and Renault look up and hear the sound of a plane taking of.
Renault: The plane to Lisbon. (pause) Would you like to be on it?
Rick: (curtly) Why? What's in Lisbon?
Renault: The clipper to America.
Rick doesn't answer. His look isn't a happy one.

Even though, during the war, Lisbon was just a passing zone to America, what exciting, evil, dangerous times those must have been! Fortunes made, fortunes lost, fates decided.
This was a book that touched very near home. My mother's family was from the Beiras and my grandparents also caught the wolfram fever. My grandmother talks about it all the time, always showing me the gold necklace she was able to buy with the money she made then. Next time I'll ask her if she sold it to the British or the German.
On the other hand, my father had a file in the political police archives and only wasn't arrested because meanwhile he went to war in Africa.

Anyway, about the book itself, it was great to have a story set in my own beloved city, and I have to agree with mfa that although the author was very productive in descriptions, the feeling of the city was lost. At the same time, some of those descriptions would only be completely understood if you’d actually been in Lisbon, such as this one:
"Our two ancient cars roared thought Belém and thundered under the whining 25th April bridge." (page 437)
If I was asked to choose a sound that would mean Lisbon I would definitely choose this "whining" of the bridge, although I couldn’t possibly describe it.

Photo: Serra da Estrela in the Beiras, where the wolfram came from.

Journal Entry 16 by Zyana from Porto - City, Porto Portugal on Monday, January 19, 2004
Arrived today safe and sound. Will make an effort to start reading it this week but these 2 next months will be hectic so I can't really say how long I'll be.

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