São Paulo, 2013: a city at an extraordinary moment in its history.
Mario Leme, a detective in the civil police, has developed a friendship with a young English investigative journalist, Ellie. When she goes to meet a contact in central São Paulo, Mario observes from the street as she walks into a building – and doesn’t come out. Inside, he discovers the dead body of a young man he doesn’t recognise, and Ellie’s phone lying on the floor.
Told partly from Leme’s point of view, partly from Ellie’s, Gringa takes us through five days during the redevelopment of the centre of São Paulo in the run-up to the 2014 World Cup. Ellie’s disappearance links characters at every level of the social hierarchy, from the drug dealers and civil and military police to the political class – she witnesses the feral brutality of urban breakdown.
Gringa, with shades of Don Winslow and James Ellroy, is a portrait of São Paulo in all its harshness and dysfunction, its corruption and social divisions, its kaleidoscopic dynamism, its undercurrent of derangement, and its febrile, sensual instability, executed with a deep knowledge of the city’s anatomy.
Praise for THE SÃO PAULO QUARTET:
‘Fresh, gripping, and incredibly assured’ Stav Sherez, author of The Intrusions
‘Paradise City is a gripping read. This fast-paced and darkly atmospheric novel introduces Joe Thomas as a new and distinct voice in crime fiction of the city’ Susanna Jones, author of The Earthquake Bird
‘With its feverish energy, opulent nightlife, culture and chaos, the Brazilian megalopolis is a perfect setting for Joe Thomas’s crime thrillers’ Jane Dunford, Guardian
‘Great crime fiction hinges on a sense of place, and Thomas proves an adroit guide to a city that has developed at dizzying speed’ GQ
‘[A]s vibrant, colourful and complex as South America’s largest city’ Myles McWeeney, Irish Independent
‘A tough, uncompromising style’ Jon Wise
‘Joe Thomas’s work has been compared to James Ellroy, as it is abrupt, elliptical, and heavily loaded with slang in both English and Portuguese. That comparison is true’ Shotsmag
‘The risks involved in life are portrayed very strongly, particularly if you are not one of the rich enjoying the good life behind guarded gates. […] The thoughts and conversations of the featured characters come across as roughly-hewn and realistic […]. The whole builds up to a picture of a place you can believe, but you might not necessarily want to visit’ Chris Roberts, Crime Review
‘[A] pacy read portraying vividly the dynamism and dysfunction, seediness and sensuality, corruption and vibrancy of the world’s twelfth largest city. […] I can see it as perfect film noir/ TV material and if you fancy a walk on the dark, wild side, you couldn’t choose a more exciting fellow traveller’ Serena Fairfax, Mystery People
‘Gringa has been compared with the works of James Ellroy or Don Winslow due to its astute sense of place and time, but I see it sharing more with the likes of David Peace’s Red Riding quartet. […] Thomas has captured the uniquely Brazilian flavour of social struggle in Brazil. […] a city this fascinating and diverse is certainly worth a visit on the page’ Nagasi Ayonara, Crime Fiction Lover
‘Gringa is a mix of thrilling read and social insight – fast paced and original. […] If you want a thriller that’s a little exotic, a lot original and thoroughly entertaining, try Gringa’ Paul Burke, Nudge Noir/ The Nudge
‘[I] felt my hackles rise on more than one occasion. […] Thomas consistently exposes the naked truth behind the power and oppression of the more vulnerable in society. […] powerful and thought provoking… The weighty social issues of the book are more than balanced with the superb characterisation... [Gringa is] a great read for those who like their crime on the darker side of the tracks, and dare I say it, even better than the debut [Paradise City]. Highly recommended’ Raven Crime Reads
‘São Paulo is very alive, vibrant, dangerous and oh so corrupt – the atmosphere of Gringa drips with authenticity. […] I can’t wait to read more about this intoxicating city (9/10)’ Annabel Gaskell, Shiny New Reads