Small Death in Lisbon

by Robert Wilson

Tuesday, May 28, 2002

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[my comments are taken from a mailing list discussion and may contain spoliers!]

I’m not going to manage to finish the book before going off on my holidays on Friday so I’m going to wade in with what I think so far and catch up when I get back. (By which time I’ll have to catch up on the No 1 Ladies Detective Agency discussion too)

I started reading this book and after a couple of chapters had to check the cover to check that the title was indeed “Small Death in _Lisbon_” as I was in 1941 Berlin and not much enjoying it. For once the back cover blurb helped me and let me know that what was happening would link up with things in Lisbon. In the course of this I totally forgot about the prologue.

I’m really not enjoying the Nazi side of the story which is a pity because I’m really liking the present day Lisbon side of the story. The fact that the present day story is first person helps too, I find it so much more readable than the older side of the story. I’d like to see something showing me that these two stories are connected to get me into the earlier story but on page 200 or so it feels like reading two completely separate books.

I’m looking forward to finding the connections and am kind of trusting the book as a “Gold Dagger” winner to deliver on its promises, though I’m probably missing things due to reading the Nazi bits and falling asleep.

The two stories in different times is reminding me of Peter Robinson’s _In a Dry Season_ that we read a couple of years ago. I think Robinson did a far better job of connecting his stories in the course of the book though.

So no, I’m not finding both storylines to be enthralling I’m afraid and the prologue obviously didn’t make an impression upon me. I do really like the present day story though and I’ll keep reading to find out what happens.

You know how sometimes you can love one book by an author whilst finding another unreadable? It feels like Wilson has managed to do this in a single book to me!