In wartime Berlin, successful businessman Klaus Felsen is known for his love of women and his talent for learning foreign languages from his lovers. Because of these accomplishments, an officer of the SS recruits Felsen and assigns him to Portugal for the duration of the war to broker deals for Portuguese resources. Felsen’s war time actions reverberate into the present with the death of a teenage girl outside of Lisbon in the late 1990s. While investigating the murder of the teenager Catarina Oliveria, Inspector Ze Coehlo attempts to unravel a complex web of past wrongs and contemporary evil.
Winner of the 1999 Gold Dagger Award for Best Crime Novel of the Year by the British Crime Writers Association, A Small Death in Lisbon is an excellent historical novel of World War II and a fine piece of contemporary crime fiction. The historical story opens a window into Portugal’s role in World War II and its fascist past. Within the framework of a traditional police procedural, the contemporary mystery offers the reader a look at modern Portugal and the moral attitudes of a rapidly changing urban society. Readers who enjoy espionage or adventure stories of World War II and contemporary crime fiction should try this literary thriller.
Reviewed by ds, 2/03. Other reviews by ds.