Luiz Alfredo Garcia-Roza started the Inspector Espinosa series in 1997 with The Silence of the Rain. Inspector Espinosa lives a very Brazilian life in Copacabana. He knows his neighborhood well, and the streets, parks, beaches, and the characters he encounters in the novels are all based on well-known Carioca (Rio de Janeiro resident) lifestyles. Espinosa lives a solitary life among the crowds of tourists, business professionals, entrepreneurs, the homeless, and the criminals of Copacabana. The inspector goes about his life unnoticed by his neighbors. He lives in an honest manner, and to do so, he maintains a certain physical and psychological distance between himself and his community.
This individuality extends to his interactions with fellow law enforcement officials in his police district, the Peixoto District. He is one of only two police officers in the series who are portrayed as honest and above coercion from those who would co-opt them. Garcia-Roza chose the name Espinosa because it was the name of a philosopher. This name was meant to project the image of a police officer who would ponder the evidence and situation rather than the stereotypical Latin crime investigator who would often rigidly stick to his first impressions of a crime in order to solve the case quickly (and often profit from this artificial resolution).
Throughout the series, Garcia-Roza presents the tropical climate and beach environment as an exotic backdrop for the fast-paced progression of life and crime in Rio de Janeiro. The heat of summer (in December), the winds that bring tropical rainstorms, and proximity to ocean beaches with their cooling breezes dictate where many of the clandestine meetings, stakeouts, and other events included in the crime-solving process take place. Like most residents of Copacabana, Inspector Espinosa lives in an apartment. Much of his life involves his experiences with the surrounding neighborhood. In Espinosa, Garcia-Roza creates a fallible man, one who can and does make mistakes as he develops a case. He is a simple but not simplistic man who calmly accepts his life as a divorced man. His home is a place of frozen dinners, oddly stacked literary works (one of his passions is used books), and a telephone answering machine. This “electronic secretary” is central to all of Garcia-Roza’s mystery novels. Much of the action that takes place in the novels begins or ends with a message on the answering machine. The machine is so important in the works that it can be thought of as a crucial character.
Garcia-Roza presents the reader with strong female characters. They run the gamut from wealthy widows to artists to prostitutes. What they all have in common is their intelligence and strength in demanding circumstances. Inspector Espinosa reduces the personal distance he keeps from others only to indulge in one of his few social pleasures: having women in his life. Numerous women, both suspects and friends, appear during Espinosa’s investigations. Most, such as Alba Antunes in The Silence of the Rain, appear in only one novel. However, Irene has an ongoing amorous but nonexclusive relationship with Espinosa throughout the series.
Garcia-Roza provides Espinosa with one honest and trustworthy partner in the police unit, a Sherlock Holmes-like officer known simply as Welber. However, fellow police officers are often as corrupt as the criminal suspects. For this reason, and to avoid losing testimony from honest witnesses who would feel pressured to exaggerate their testimonies if they were to speak inside the district precinct, Espinosa often meets with witnesses in plazas, in parks, or on beaches. The witnesses are often told not to speak to...
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