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A Small Death in Lisbon Mass Market Paperback – 1 Mar 2002

4.3 out of 5 stars 64 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Berkley Books; Reissue edition (Mar. 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0425184234
  • ISBN-13: 978-0425184233
  • Product Dimensions: 10.4 x 3 x 17 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (64 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,706,308 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Amazon Review

In such distinctively written novels as A Darkening Stain and Blood is Dirt, Robert Wilson established a solid claim to be the heir apparent of such major writers as Graham Greene in fusing thriller elements with brilliantly written novels of character. His speciality was the luminous creation of atmosphere in his exotic locales, and his 1999 Golden Dagger winner, A Small Death in Lisbon represents the most cogent example yet of this rare ability.

Europe, 1941: Lisbon is one of the world's tensest cities, and as the Nazis and Allies jostle for power, Iberia becomes a fulcrum for the menace that is about to engulf Europe. Klaus Felsen, torn from his Berlin factory to become a reluctant member of the SS, finds himself drawn into a savage battle for a vital element in Hitler's Blitzkrieg. There he meets a man who will set in motion a sinister conspiracy that will last to the end of the century.

Lisbon, 1998: Inspector Zé Coelho is struggling against the closed ranks of his colleagues in the investigation of the brutal murder of a young girl. Her disturbing sexual past is the focus for his colleagues' attention, but as Coelho begins to unearth some remarkable secrets behind her death, he encounters a plot that stretches beyond the 1974 Portuguese revolution--back to the atrocities of the fascist regime. Soon he is facing a terrifying opponent in his battle to uncover the horrors of the past.

The protagonist as an outsider in a hostile community may not be a new literary device, but rarely is it so adroitly handled. Coelho is a fully rounded character, vividly realised and handled with an unflinching honesty. The complexity of the narrative stays clear and compelling because of Wilson's ability to sharply rein various plot lines, while slowly allowing them to unfold. Although more ambitious and epic in its scope than his previous books, A Small Death in Lisbon retains all the author's customary and mesmerising imagery:

It was at about that time that a girl started to make her dent in the sand no more than the few hundred metres away from where I was sleeping. Her eyes wide open, she moonbathed to a night full of stars, her blood slack, her skin cold and hard as fresh tuna.
-- Barry Forshaw --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"Seductive...compelling."--Los Angeles Times

"A taut international thriller." --Time

"Fascinating...wonderfully rich." --Chicago Tribune



"Seductive...compelling."--Los Angeles Times
"A taut international thriller." --Time
"Fascinating...wonderfully rich." --Chicago Tribune


"Seductive...compelling."--Los Angeles Times

"A taut international thriller." --Time

"Fascinating...wonderfully rich." --Chicago Tribune



"Seductive...compelling."Los Angeles Times

"A taut international thriller." Time

"Fascinating...wonderfully rich." Chicago Tribune

"

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I was riveted almost to the end of this book by the complex story of greed, betrayal and brutality set against a beautifully evoked backcloth of Salazar's Portugal in the second world war. However, the complementary part of the plot, which is set in present day Lisbon and which links up with this past, was never so compelling, and I had lost interest by the end as contrivance and coincidence multiplied. Neither were the 1990s characters as brilliantly drawn as their wartime counterparts. My feeling was that Wilson had overstretched himself by working in the contemporary angle and that the book would have been more successful without this. All the same I would recommend this novel both for the vivid descriptions of the horrific - reminiscent of Michael Dibdin at his best - and for the sure grasp of history coupled with a deep understanding of the beautiful but seedy city of Lisbon.
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Format: Paperback
The title of this book attracted me because I am familiar with the city of Lisbon and its immediate environs. I was impressed by the style of writing of Robert Wilson, an author of whom I had no previous knowledge. I found the plot, and counter plots, enthralling and the book's subjects made compelling reading. As with all truly excellent crime writers Wilson has the art of suggesting things to the reader which makes them think they have the "answers", Just when I thought I was in this position everything changed and I had to rethink my reasoning.
An excellent novel which I greatly enjoyed and from which I learnt a number of historical details.
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Format: Paperback
Good book.
The movement between wartime Germany/Portugal, and modernish-day Lisbon is really quite ambitious, and just about works well. The plots intertwine entertainingly, and while you feel the denouement has happened a bit early and you've "got it", there's always one more twist you didn't quite have under control.
Perhaps by the end, the scarey character wasn't quite scarey enough, and I have to admit that I find some of the violence, and fascination with bodily functions just a tad...unnecessary - but I'm probably just a woos.
Good book.
Would want to try one more.
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Format: Paperback
This novel is compelling and exciting, a racy blend of a narrative of wartime Nazi intrigue and exploitation interweaved with a modern day crime investigation. Mostly set in Portugal it brings to life the ambiance of the country and nicely juxtaposes the shadow of Salazar-era politics on middle aged Portuguese and still undiscovered Nazi secrets. The main character, the investigating officer, is perceptive, insightful and honest with himself and others, both in his professional and private lives.
Well written and addictive. Top book.
Clive
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Format: Paperback
Robert Wilson? Is he currently the the most underrated male crime writer? Very possibly. He gets huge amounts of critical acclaim, and those who read his books seem to love them also, but where the popularity? Where are the sales to match the quality, a la Ian Rankin or Michael Connelly? Wilson probably deserves them more, actually. I've read three of his books now, and each one has been absolutely superb.
A Small Death in Lisbon, with its brilliant dual narrative - one focusing on the exploits of the Germans in Portugal during the second world war, the other on the investigation of Inspector Ze Coehlo into the death of a Lisbon teenager - is an excellent piece of work in almost every way. A Gold Dagger winner, its structure is clever, and the two stories intertwine brilliantly. The book arches high, supported on the pillars of history, and becomes far, far more than a crime novel. Wilson writes excellently, with an intelligence and slight cynicism that really make the novel, and Ze Coehlo, while he may be damaged in the vein of many other contemporary detectives, is an excellent creation, and an incredibly compelling protagonist.
I've not a lot else to say about this book, save from that it's excellent. If you want proof that crime fiction is just as good as any other form, then Robert Wilson is one of several writers who will provide it in spades.
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Format: Paperback
Somewhere in this book there was a compelling story struggling to get out. Based partially on the little known history of Portugal's supposedly neutral role during World War 2, the factual elements are far more interesting than the story itself. The infamous Portuguese dictator Salazar's was a Nazi sympathiser, and at the beginning of the war supplied the German war effort. This fact sets the scene for the story, which involves a German secret agent setting up a smuggling operation - that involved the shipping of Wolfram to Germany for the manufacture of armaments. The story then moves forward to the future where a Lisbon police inspector is investigating the death of a teenage girl. Essentially the plot relies heavily on contrivances and coincidences to link the two stories together to create an unconvincing anti-climax.

Some of the sexual content is sadistic and an uncomfortable read at times given the age of the murdered girl. There are very few writers who can describe the act of sex without it coming across as tacky, tawdry and voyeuristic, less is always more in this case. Wilson has obviously researched Lisbon in great detail, but do we really need to know the characters are sitting on white plastic chairs? There is far too much description of the city and at times reads like a travelogue. Maybe research should have included reading Saramago and Pessoa who have written about Lisbon in sparing prose that evoke the great city far better than a paragraph of Wilson's writing.
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