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Thriller set in São Paulo

13th December 2019

Playboy by Joe Thomas – thriller set in São Paulo.

Thriller set in São Paulo

Playboy is a good thriller set amongst both the upmarket areas of São Paulo as well as the deprived favelas. It is city of enormous contrasts, of great disparities in wealth. The young inhabitants of the upmarket areas are frequently known as ‘playboys‘ – a term that has a precise meaning for Paulistanos, the people of São Paulo. It is not altogether complimentary.

Back in 2016 São Paulo was a city in crisis. Hundreds of thousands of people were on the streets protesting either for or against the imprisonment on corruption charges of President Dilma Rousseff. The whole political establishment seemed under threat. Corruption and misappropriation of public funds were rife, and the beneficiaries of such practices were scared for their future. During one of the disturbances, a playboy was found murdered just outside a notorious park. He was found by an off-duty policeman, Leme, who had been lead to the site by a tip off. But just as Leme discovered the body, the military police arrived and bundled him into a van as the prime suspect. He had been set up – but by who? The rest of the book is essentially Leme’s efforts to prove his innocence and bring the perpetrators to justice. The plot, though, is very murky…

Another playboy is missing and people are looking for him. The military police are not above suspicion. They are the elite of the forces of law and order in São Paulo, but they are not too concerned with obeying the law – only in maintaining order. They are gun runners and drug dealers… the most corrupt of the corrupt.

Leme, together with the girlfriend of the still missing playboy, and aided by an English investigative journalist, endangers his life as he pursues the truth. The end of the book is disquieting.

As I said, Playboy is a very worthwhile thriller but it is a great deal more than that. It is a very political book. Joe Thomas lived in São Paulo for 10 years and clearly has a great love for, and concern about, the city and its inhabitants. Playboy is the third book in his São Paulo series – the fourth and final one will be published in 2021.

A thought provoking read.

Tony for the TripFiction team

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