In A Small Death in Lisbon, the narrative switches back and forth between 1941 and 1999, and Wilson's wide knowledge of history and keen sense of place make the eras equally vibrant. In 1941 Germany, Klaus Felsen, an industrialist, is approached by the SS high command in a none-too-friendly manner and is "persuaded" to go to Lisbon and oversee the sale--or smuggling--of wolfram (also known as tungsten, used in the manufacture of tanks and airplanes). World War II Portugal is neutral where business is concerned, and too much of the precious metal is being sold to Britain when Germany needs it to insure that Hitler's blitzkrieg is successful.
Cut to 1999 Lisbon, where the daughter of a prominent lawyer has been found dead on a beach. Ze Coehlo, a liberal police inspector who is a widower with a daughter of his own, must sift through the life of Catarina Oliviera and discover why she was so brutally murdered. Her father is enigmatic, her mother suicidal; her friends were rock musicians and drug addicts.
Both a WWII novel and a modern mystery, Portugese setting is interesting. Great plot.
A very good novel.You will still be guessing to the last page.
Don't read this book if you are sleepy...you will miss too much. You have to pay attention but, it is well worth it. Knowing a few words in Portugese is helpful but, not required. A good book.
This book was absolutely epic. It is a riveting mystery/ thriller. It starts off with a murder in Lisbon, Portugal. Then it goes back to WWII and it is fascinating to see these two story lines come together. Wilson puts all the pieces together perfectly. This is a brutally violent, darkly sexual, intense novel. The present day Lisbon detective is a great character. If you like international thrillers a la The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, try this one.