From the author’s website.
THE FOURTH CHIEF INSPECTOR MARIO SILVA INVESTIGATION.
It was Norma Palhares who first steered her new husband
toward the offshore oil platforms. At the time, it seemed
like a judicious course to follow. In the end, it set their marital
ship on the rocks.
Jonas would spend only two days a week at home; but the
money was good, and he’d only do it for a year or so, just until
they had enough saved up to buy a bigger house. But the kids
they’d planned on never came, so they’d never needed that
bigger house. And, in the meantime, their expenses just kept
going up and up. New cars every year, flat-screen televisions
all over the house, imported wines, designer clothing, the
most expensive restaurants, the finest club in the city, the
best hairdressers. Jonas kept bringing the money in, and
Norma kept shoveling it out. A year became two, then three.
And by the time the divorce became final, they’d been
together for more than seven.
Jonas moved in with a colleague and began to do what he’d
wanted to do for quite some time—embrace the good life.
The colleague was another petroleum engineer who had
taken a small flat on a busy shopping street in the Leme neighborhood,
six blocks from the beach. He, too, had recently separated
from his wife and, burdened by child support, would have
been happy to have Jonas stay on and help with the rent. But
Jonas, who’d managed to conceal a bundle of money from
Norma and her lawyer, had no kids and no financial problems.
He wanted a place of his own.
He settled first in Santa Teresa, taking a small house with
a high wall and a big garden. The house, situated in the
highest part of Rio’s highest neighborhood, was conveniently
located, less than fifty meters from the nearest streetcar stop.
The single-story structure was of just the right size: big
enough for Jonas’s needs, but small enough to be maintained
without a full-time maid. A cleaning lady, who came in three
times a week, kept it tidy.
From his backyard, Jonas could look down on the mouth
of the bay. The headlands, seven hundred meters below, were
so close to one another that a Portuguese navigator had
once, on a long-ago January day, mistaken them for the
entrance to a river. It was he who’d given the place a name
it would bear forever after: Rio de Janeiro, River of January.
The spectacular view was further enhanced by the Christ
Statue up on the Corcovado. The monument, almost forty
meters in height, was actually four kilometers away, at almost
the same altitude as the house. To Jonas’s visitors, it looked
like a copy in miniature set into the recesses of his garden
among the banana trees.
It was all very lovely, but the neighborhood’s newest resident
soon came to a rude awakening: the charm of Santa
Teresa was offset by a lack of security. It had become a dangerous
place to visit, and an even more dangerous place to live.
After being held up at the point of a gun three times in
nine months, Jonas, frightened and fed up, paid the penalty
for canceling his lease and took an apartment in Ipanema.
There, smack-dab in the middle of Avenida Vieira Souto,
his terrace faced the brilliant yellow sand of the beach. The
South Atlantic was only a hundred meters from his front
door. Beyond the curling waves, islands floated on a sea of
blue. Farther out, the superstructures of ships dotted the
horizon. And on weekends, Jonas was treated to the sight of
tiny forms, climbers, scaling the gray walls of the Sugarloaf.
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