by Robert Wilson
Library Journal Klaus Felsen, a Berlin businessman forced into the SS against his will in 1941, has been assigned to Portugal. From there, he ships the Germans wolframDa mineral desperately needed by Hitler's war machineDand, near the end of the war, smuggles Nazi gold in the other direction, ultimately betraying the men who control him. Over 50 years later, Inspector Ze Coelho works to solve the murder of a young girl near Lisbon and in doing so unravels a tangled skein that ties the corruption of the past to the tragedy of the present. Wilson's fifth novel, winner of England's Golden Dagger for Best Crime Novel, richly deserves both the acclaim it has garnered overseas and a wide audience in this country. Using story lines that converge in time, Wilson skillfully weaves an engrossing and complex tale, characterized by an atmospheric evocation of past and present Portugal, fascinating characters of great psychological depth, a brilliant plot that grips the reader to the last word, and an immensely satisfying mastery of craft and language. Highly recommended for public and academic libraries.DRonnie H. Terpening, Univ. of Arizona, Tucson Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
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Book list This winner of Britain's Golden Dagger for best crime novel juggles two stories, both set in Lisbon. Klaus Felsen is a German businessman forced into the SS in 1941 and assigned the task of smuggling a crucial tungsten alloy from Portugal to Germany. In the late 1990s, a melancholy Lisbon cop, Inspector Ze Coelho, must investigate the shocking murder of a promiscuous teenager. Wilson moves effortlessly between the two seemingly unrelated plots, drawing them together finally when Coelho's investigative trail leads to a long-suppressed scandal involving Portugal's ties to the Nazis. Wilson's skill at interweaving narrative threads shines brightly, and Coelho and Felsen both emerge as compelling, multilayered characters who defy our expectations. Wilson is clearly a major talent, though the massive scope of his novel--the multiple story lines, converging time frames, and enormous cast--eventually drains some intensity, leaving us more impressed with the story's complexity than overwhelmed by its power. If Wilson's reach exceeds his grasp just a bit this time, he establishes himself as a writer to watch very closely. ^-Bill Ott
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.
Publishers Weekly The real star of this gripping and beautifully written mysteryDwhich won the British Crime Writers' Golden Dagger Award for Best Crime Novel last yearDis Portugal, whose history and people come to life on every page. Wilson tells two stories: the investigation into the brutal sex murder of a 15-year-girl in 1998, and the tangled, bloody saga of a financial enterprise that begins with the Nazis in 1941. Although the two stories seem unrelated, both are so strong and full of fascinating characters that readers' attentionDand their faith that they will eventually be connectedDshould never waver. The author creates three compelling protagonists: middle-aged detective Jose Coelho, better known as Ze; Ze's late British wife, whom he met while exiled in London with his military officer father during the anti-Salazar political uprisings of the 1970s; and Ze's wise, talented and sexually active 16-year-old daughter. The first part of the WWII story focuses on an ambitious, rough-edged but likeable Swabian businessman, Klaus Felsen, convinced by the Gestapo to go to Portugal and seize the lion's share of that country's supply of tungsten, vital to the Nazi war effort. Later, we meet Manuel Abrantes, a much darker and more dangerous character, who turns out to be the main link between the past and the present. As Ze sifts through the sordid circumstances surrounding the murder of the promiscuous daughter of a powerful, vindictive lawyer, Wilson shines a harsh light on contemporary Portuguese society. Then, in alternating chapters, he shows how and why that society developed. All this and a suspenseful mysteryDwho could ask for more? (Oct.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
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