A Small Death in Lisbon

A Small Death in Lisbon

by Robert Wilson

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1941. Klaus Felsen, forced out of his Berlin factory into the SS, arrives in a luminous Lisbon, where Nazis and Allies, refugees and entrepreneurs, dance to the strains of opportunism and despair. Felsen's assignment takes him to the bleak mountains of the north where a devious and brutal battle is being fought for an element vital to Hitler's bliztkrieg. There he meets the man who plants the first seed of greed and revenge that will grow into a thick vine in the landscape of post-war Portugal. Late 1990s. Investigating the murder of a young girl with a disturbing sexual past, Inspector Ze Coelho overturns the dark soil of history and unearths old bones from Portugal's fascist past. This small death in Lisbon is horrific compensation for an even older crime, and Coelho's stubborn pursuit of its truth reveals a tragedy that unites past and present. Robert Wilson's combination of intelligence, suspense, vivid characters, and mesmerizing storytelling richly deserves the international acclaim his novel has received.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780547545035
Publisher: HMH Books
Publication date: 10/05/2000
Sold by: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 453
Sales rank: 44,981
File size: 2 MB

About the Author

ROBERT WILSON is the author of numerous novels, including The Company of Strangers and A Small Death in Lisbon, which won the Gold Dagger Award as Best Crime Novel of the Year from Britain’s Crime Writers’ Association. A graduate of Oxford University, he has worked in shipping, advertising, and trading in Africa, and has lived in Greece, Portugal, and West Africa.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

"Seductive...compelling."—Los Angeles Times

"A taut international thriller." —Time

"Fascinating...wonderfully rich." —Chicago Tribune

Customer Reviews

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A Small Death in Lisbon 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 24 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is amazing. I picked it up based on a review I saw in a magazine. It is one of the best books I have ever read!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Picked up the book on a whim, and so, so glad I did. It is beatifully written, descriptive like few I've had the pleasure of reading. The characters and plots were well concieved, developed, deep, and alive. I simply did not want to stop reading. The twists through time, always bringing you back to the present story were compelling. I enjoyed both plot lines tremendously, for each one could have been a great book in itself, and here we get both, and when the merge, it hits you....with a smile on your face because you should have seen the connection. The action is merciless, sexually raw, and filled with loathsome characters. Even the good guys have flaws and pain. Real people in difficult times trying to survive, and some, get ahead at any cost. A truly enjoyable, smart read. I will definatly be looking for Mr. Wilson's next book to hit the states.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Highly recommend this book...the parallel (obviously) connected time-separated development device works well...characters well-drawn with feel of realism...feels authentic, plausible and well researched...first 2/3 or so of book is significantly better as many twists and turns of increasingly convoluted plot feels a bit rushed and less convincingly thought out compared to first 2/3...nevertheless, excellent thriller which is not only the proverbial 'page turner', but is a great primer on modern Portugese history as a wonderful bonus...highly highly recommended; stayed up till 4 a.m. to finish it (on a weekday!)...Le Carre-esque (when he is near his best)...
Anonymous 4 months ago
Was tired of reading all the names of the Portugese streets and even the names of the characters got confusing. Very long tedious read.
krbrancolini on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
"A Small Death in Lisbon" has all of my favorite elements -- interesting and believeable characters, a complex mystery plot, a fascinating setting, and two narratives, one in the past, World War II, and one in the present. One reviewer said that the characters were too unlikeable, but I completely disagree. On the first page, the reader meets the murder victim from the 1998 storyline, who turns out to be a promiscuous 15-year-old Portuguese girl named Caterina. As the mother of a teenage daughter, Caterina broke my heart. She lived in a wealthy but twisted household, the victim of psychological abuse and then murder. I immediately cared about her and wanted to know her story. The detective who pursues her killer, Ze Coelho, has a sad recent past and also a teenage daughter. The focus of the historical plot is Klaus Felsen, a Berlin factory-owner turned SS officer, sent to neutral Portugal to acquire wolfram for the Nazi war machine. Despite his often-despicable actions, I found him to be strangely sympathetic. The novel demonstrates how brutal treatment spawns brutality. There are truly evil characters in the book as well, but many of them receive their just desserts. Usually in books that alternate narratives, I find myself intersted in one plotline more than the other. Some reviewers enjoyed the historical plot more, but I found them both to be compelling. Only once or twice was I tempted to skip ahead to continue following one plot or the other. I could not wait to learn how the two narratives would converge. Wilson placed tantalizing clues along the way. As Wilson brought the two narrative threads together, I could hardly put the book down! Many reviewers have also commented upon the setting. I visited Portugal many years ago and this book made me want to go back. The author lives in Portugal and he vividly depicts the landscape and the culture.
jrtanworth on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Wilson alternates two stories; one involves a contemporary (1998) Lisbon policeman searching for the murderer of a teenage girl; the second describes the gradual growth of wealth and power of a German businessman turned SS officer as he uses cunning and murder to during WWII to provide a vital mineral from Portugal to the German war machine. Both stories are interesting, and the reader keeps trying to figure out how they will connect. The connection is fully revealed only at the very end. For me, the most interesting aspect of the book is the description of the links between the Nazis and the "neutral" Salazar, and the SS connection to Brazil.
brettjames on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book is so entrancing that I don't really mind that the ending is rushed and disheveled. For me, that's a lot to forgive.
ericknudson on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Good mystery. Sort of difficult to follow time changes in a few places, since it takes place in the same locations 50-odd years apart. You keep wondering how everything will tie together in the end, but it does.
BruderBane on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
¿He was part of the cycle. We were all part of the damaging cycle.¿ A line spoken by Inspector Coelho and filled with such veracity and genuineness, that you are compelled to see this novel through to the final and surprising ending. Robert Wilson's "A Small Death in Lisbon," is filled with action, suspense and more drama than you can shake an escudo at. Set in Portugal before, during, after and well-after certain dynamic events of World War II, Mr. Wilson weaves an intricate web of lies compounded by deceit and reinforced with treachery and topped off with murder. And although Mr. Wilson can be wordy, he tells a great tale.
rw_flyer on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Slow for the first three quarters, the sustaining interest is the development of the Felsen character who is then incarcerated. Action and story picks up in the later quarter of the book.
dougwood57 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
For much of the book A Small Death in Lisbon is like reading two novels. One book follows the investigation by Inspector Ze Coehlo into the 1990's murder and possible sexual assault of a 16-year old daughter of a powerful Portuguese lawyer. The other one is the tale of German businessman and SS supporter Klaus Felsen who is 'persuaded' to move to Portugal and obtain wolfram (tungsten) for the Nazi war effort. Great fortunes are amassed and powerful connections established. Wilson sets his tale in 20th century European history. He covers aspects of WW II that were new to this reader and from a German and Portuguese perspective - also unusual - and the reign of the conservative dictator Salazar and the revolution of 1974. Portugal's development as a modern society provides the background for much of the story. Both those stories are interesting in their own right, but meander along and the reader is left to wonder how the two stories could possibly come together. Finally about midway into the book the author drops a clue. Things begin to pick up. I partially agree with another reviewer (who, unlike me, did not like the book): there is a lot of drinking, smoking, sex, and violence. The sex and violence passages are descriptive without quite being gratuitously graphic, in my opinion, but others will disagree. To each his own, but some readers may want to be aware of these elements. I probably would have given the book four stars, but in the last 100 pages or so the twin stories crash together as the tale reaches an exciting and satisfying resolution. As I closed the book cover, I actually said 'wow, what a finish'.
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