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Southwesterly Wind by L. A. García-Roza

Southwesterly Wind (1999)

by L. A. García-Roza

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I found that the story dragged but ended quite well . ( )
  Condorena | Apr 2, 2013 |
At his 29th birthday party Garbiel Alzira is told by a psychic that by his next birthday he will have killed someone. As the date of Gabriel’s birthday looms he becomes increasingly agitated at the thought the prediction will come true and so he begins to trawl Rio de Janeiro looking for the psychic and also asks the police, in the form of Inspector Espinoza in the Copacabana district of the city, to investigate the murder which has yet to be committed. Eventually someone connected to Gabriel does die but there’s no evidence that the person was even murdered let alone by Gabriel. Has a crime been committed and if so was Gabriel responsible?

In terms of crime fiction as the English-writing/speaking world knows it, this book would barely register on the genre’s scale, owing far more to the Latin American literary, often poetic narrative style though there are only fleeting glimpses (thankfully for me) of the magical realism that has been prevalent in other Latin American books I’ve read. It doesn’t seem to feel the need to finish all the threads very neatly and much more of the ending is left up to the reader to imagine than would be the case with a more traditional procedural.

The characters are depicted in an observational style but there is depth to them too. When we’re introduced to Gabriel’s widowed mother, who he lives with, she is sitting in her ground floor apartment’s window watching for her son to come down the street as she does every single day and she almost hyperventilates when he is 40 minutes late. She is making herself a cushion to aid in her window-watching and has fashioned herself a ladder to help her climb up to her perch which shows, in words other authors would take two chapters to describe while Garcia-Roza takes about a page, how obsessed she is with her son and how pivotal her relationship with him is to her daily life. Espinoza is almost her exact opposite being fairly cynical, having no close family living in the country and not being remotely interested in domestic pursuits. He is however very funny and does have some nice relationships including one with his 13-year old neighbour who he allows to convince him to acquire a puppy. With all the characters Garcia-Roza kept me wondering whether they are who they appear to be on first acquaintance and I loved that. In fact the least successful person in the book was the central character of Gabriel who was a little more predictable from my point of view than the others.

Southwesterly wind really is quite a simple story but it captivated me so completely I managed to read the last half of it while at the hairdresser’s (one of the few places I normally don’t bother to try and read due to the cacophony created by the blaring radio, shouted conversations and duelling hairdryers). I really had no idea what would come next but I had a rather desperate need to find out and the writing style lent itself to the book being quickly devoured. It is one of those crime fiction novels that I can imagine recommending to all sorts of readers, not just fellow mystery lovers, as it is first and foremost an intriguing yarn about intriguing people. It just happens to have a crime at its core, or the possibility of one at any rate. ( )
  bsquaredinoz | Mar 31, 2013 |
3rd in the Inspector Espinoza series set in Rio de Janeiro.

This is more psychological thriller of a subdued nature than a mystery or a police procedural. Yes, there are murders but that actually is second to the mental deterioration of Gabriel, a 30 year old young man to whom a psychic pedicted, 2 months before his birthday, that Gabriel would kill someone in a nonaccidental way before his birthday. Gabriel's resulting descent into madness is fascinating.

Additional spice to the story is provided by subplots involving a romantic interest and a young neighbor who is prodding a reluctant Espinoza into dog ownership. The endingis a very nice twist, although there is one very loose, dangling end that is never satisfactorily tied up.

Rio itself is nowhere near the major character in the story as it was in the first two books, but is still there as a backdrop. ( )
  Joycepa | May 6, 2007 |
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 031242454X, Paperback)

So palpable is the role of loneliness in Southwesterly Wind, the third installment of Brazilian author Luiz Alfredo Garcia-Roza's seductive police-procedural series, that it almost deserves a separate listing among the cast. Nobody here escapes its casual ravages. Certainly not Gabriel, a 29-year-old office drone in Rio de Janeiro who still lives with his religious-fanatic mother, fears intimate association with younger women, and might well have remained a societal cipher had he not been the recipient of a most dubious prediction: "A psychic saw that I would commit a murder before my next birthday. There's less than two months to go," he explains to Sergeant Espinosa of the Copacabana precinct. It would of course be absurd to launch an investigation into a slaying that hasn't occurred yet to a victim who isn't known. However, the compassionate Espinosa at least puts a police tail on the would-be killer, and he interviews one of his fellow workers, Olga Marins, who witnessed the misfortune-telling and looks increasingly to Gabriel as the remedy for her own solitude. Espinosa even tracks down the psychic reader responsible for setting these events in motion--an economist-turned-entertainer who's oblivious to the damage his auguries might cause a troubled mind. With Gabriel's birthday fast approaching, and people perishing around this paranoid and soon-to-be armed young man, it falls to Espinosa to identify the real murderer and discover the startling truth behind Gabriel's "craziness."

As he did in The Silence of the Rain and December Heat, the divorced and bookish Espinosa acts in this tale greatly from instinct and emotion, his heart keenly on view as he pursues a winsome but elusive girlfriend of Olga's and indulges a precocious teenage neighbor who thinks him in desperate need of canine companionship. Garcia-Roza glosses over the violence for which Rio's cops are known, preferring a more romantic conception of Espinosa and his colleagues that allows the author to focus on the psychology of his inexpert criminals. With its lucid prose and loving portrayal of Brazil's largest city, Southwesterly Wind is crime fiction for the connoisseur--as thoughtful as it is thrilling, and displaying more intriguing loose ends than the thongs of Ipanema. --J. Kingston Pierce

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:20:13 -0400)

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"Chief of the Copacabana precinct Espinosa is more than happy to interrupt his paperwork when a terrified young man arrives at the station with a bizarre story. A psychic has predicted that he would commit a murder, it seems, and the prediction has become fact in the young man's mind. It's a case more appropriate for a psychiatrist or philosopher, but, rising to the challenge, Espinosa slowly enters the web of a psychologically conflicted man." "As the weather shifts and the southwesterly wind - always a sign of dramatic change - starts up, what at first seems like paranoia becomes brutal reality. Two violent murders occur, and their only link is the lonely, clever man who had sought Espinosa out a few days earlier for help."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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