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A Samba for Sherlock: A Novel [Paperback]

Jose Eugenio Soares
3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (50 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Oct. 27 1998 Vintage International
"Full of suspense and humor. . . . If Soares is remarkably strong in the crime scenes, he's also deliciously agreeable in his reconstruction of places and people."                          --Folha de São Paulo (Brazil)

Set in Rio de Janeiro in 1886, this internationally acclaimed literary thriller opens with the theft of a priceless Stradivarius violin that has been presented by Dom Pedro, emperor of Brazil, to his favorite mistress. At the same time a hideously inventive killer is prowling the boulevards and back alleys of Rio, leaving a violin string entangled in the intimate parts of his beautiful victims. Only one man possesses the genius, the valor, and the discretion that both cases demand: Sherlock Holmes.  
     In this witty, charming, and highly original novel, the Brazilian author Jô Soares boldly reimagines Conan Doyle's legendary sleuth, introducing a very distracted and debauched Sherlock Holmes, one who trades cocaine for "Indian cigarettes" and falls head over heels for a sultry actress. Overflowing with suspense and historical erudition, A Samba for Sherlock is a novel that combines the authenticity of The Alienist with the exuberant fantasy of carnaval.

"Written with irresistible humor and remarkable control."  
--L'Espresso (Italy)

"One of the most charming and entertaining books of the year."  
--Le Point (France)

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Product Description

From the Back Cover

International Praise for Jô Soares and A Samba for Sherlock

From Brazil
"Full of suspense and humor, the story transports us to the Rio of the Belle Epoque. If Soares is remarkably strong in the crime scenes, he's also deliciously agreeable in his reconstruction of places and people. His straightforward text brings to the book both depth and unpretentiousness."
--Folha de Sao Paulo

From France
"Without a doubt, one of the most charming and entertaining books of the year...Real suspense, lots of fun, and elegance, even at its most macabre."
--Le Point

From Italy
"Written with irresistible humor and remarkable control, this novel introduces a writer to be reckoned with."
---L'Espresso

From Germany
"That I had initially suspected many innocent people is a credit to the imagination and diabolical intelligence of the true killer, but even more to Soares's masterfully presented story. This is a brilliant novelistic debut."
--Lesart Journal für Literatur --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Jô Soares is one of Brazil's best-known and most-loved cultural figures. His hugely successful career in television, theater, and film has been supplemented over recent years by his entry into the world of books and journalism with the publication of three works of nonfiction and numerous articles in Brazil. A Samba for Sherlock is his first novel.


From the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Reads Like a First Novel Oct. 27 2003
Format:Hardcover
Jo Soares is a well-known Brazilian entertainer with a talk show and a newspaper column. "A Samba for Sherlock" is his first novel, and it reads like it. It's not a bad book, just a bit overwritten in that hyper-enthusiastic way of first novelists. Soares has done his research on Sarah Bernhardt, Sherlock Holmes, and the emperor's court in 1886 Rio de Janeiro. He's crafted a reasonably well-structured novel and thought through the different pieces of the plot so that they fit together at the edges. The problems, of course, are with the greatest challenges for fiction writers: character and dialogue, and "Sherlock" fails at both. The characters are all buffoons, every one of them. This makes for some lighthearted humor at the characters' own expense, but it also means that in the end none of them have any depth or nuance. They are just cardboard caricatures that the author has set up in order to knock them down, mere plot devices. Similarly, the dialogue is cute and sometimes clever, but never really deep or revealing of subtlety. Finally, the research itself sometimes gets in the way as the author fills pages of text with details culled from history books that do not drive the story forward but only distract a reader's attention and break the spell of the story. "Sherlock" is a fair novel, a good first attempt. I may pick up another Jo Soares novel in the future, but I won't run breathlessly to the bookstore to find it.
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1.0 out of 5 stars Sherlock Homes? Where??? March 2 2002
Format:Hardcover
I have reed the Americans' reviews. Now it's time for a portuguese one: you're absolutely right. More than a speaker of Soares's language, I'm also a great enthusiast of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's greates creation, and it sickens me to see how perverted and degraded Holmes and Watson were in this book.
They're seen as stupid, clumsy. Holmes never uses his skills, the clues always appear from nowhere. The killer is a Jack, the ripper wannabe. Poor Watson isn't Holmes confident, but rather a waitress for the detective. Most of the jokes have come from previous books, including the one about Holmes knowing nothing about astronomy. For someone who doesn't know that, he does know more about other "useless" subjects in the book. then he gets in love with a woman, something never seen before in a Doyle's book; He's cold and emotionless, not a dandy. and seeing that this is the XIXth century, when all the englishmen were ethnocentric and cared only about their England, Holmes fills Brazil with too many compliments, instead of treating it with the racism of a XIXth century gentleman.
Bottom line: this is no Sherlock Holmes book. I only found him in the Title, and that because the original was changed, I suppose to catch some of the fans of the detective. This book is just another one to place with all the others that try to cash with the fame of Conan Doyle. If you care for the original, don't buy this.
Why do i give one star? as horrible as the story was, the historical details are brilliant, though it overshadows the plotless "plot"
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1.0 out of 5 stars Sherlock Homes? Where??? March 2 2002
Format:Hardcover
I have reed the Americans' reviews. Now it's time for a portuguese one: you're absolutely right. More than a speaker of Soares's language, I'm also a great enthusiast of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's greates creation, and it sickens me to see how perverted and degraded Holmes and Watson were in this book.
They're seen as stupid, clumsy. Holmes never uses his skills, the clues always appear from nowhere. The killer is a Jack, the ripper wannabe. Poor Watson isn't Holmes confident, but rather a waitress for the detective. Most of the jokes have come from previous books, including the one about Holmes knowing nothing about astronomy. For someone who doesn't know that, he does know more about other "useless" subjects in the book. then he gets in love with a woman, something never seen before in a Doyle's book; He's cold and emotionless, not a dandy. and seeing that this is the XIXth century, when all the englishmen were ethnocentric and cared only about their England, Holmes fills Brazil with too many compliments, instead of treating it with the racism of a XIXth century gentleman.
Bottom line: this is no Sherlock Holmes book. I only found him in the Title, and that because the original was changed, I suppose to catch some of the fans of the detective. This book is just another one to place with all the others that try to cash with the fame of Conan Doyle. If you care for the original, don't buy this.
Why do i give one star? as horrible as the story was, the historical details are brilliant, though it overshadows the plotless "plot"
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5.0 out of 5 stars Humorous and Thrilling Nov. 8 2001
Format:Paperback
As I was born in Brazil, I have the duty to say this book was one of the most wonderful I've read in my whole life. However, I do not recommend it to American readers or to people who do not have their IQ high enough (I am not saying Americans do not have high IQs, I am saying that it might be hard to understand some of the jokes). The jokes are intelligent, and you have to be clever to get them. For Brazilian people, it is by far easier, but for American, it may be not. Jo Soares is intelligent, funny, popular, and "A Samba for Sherlock" (the original title was "O Xangô de Baker Street", which means "The 'Xango' from Baker Street" - Xango is some sort of African spirit), as far as I know, was his first book ever. His expectations, I think, did not reach foreign customers, and as Holmes is not popular in Brazil, I highly doubt Soares's intentions were catching the readers' attention by using the name of Conan Doyle's character... the original title, as I said before, does not even have Sherlock Holmes's name. He is only a character, like every other. The book is not an "attempt to make Brazil known" either. As I said before, if it was, Jo Soares would not even have made up an untranslatable title as 'O Xango de Baker Street' is.
The American translator decided naming it "A Samba for Sherlock" as the French translator decided to name it after Sarah Bernhardt.
If you are so close minded that you cannot see your beloved Sherlock Holmes in a satire, this book is not for you. But if you do want to read something totally different from everything else you have read in your whole life, this is the book.
The only problem is that you will not have as much fun as a Brazilian would.
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining satire
This book is an entertaining satire of a supposed Sherlock Holmes case in Brazil. The author does a good job of adding components of Brazilian culture to the case, poking fun at... Read more
Published on Feb. 18 2003 by Denis Benchimol Minev
3.0 out of 5 stars a good light read
I like to think of Soares as a comedic Gore Vidal. The basic tension in this book comes from throwing a famous, eccentric, British aristocrat into a world where characters don't... Read more
Published on Aug. 13 2002 by El Cholo Invisivel
5.0 out of 5 stars funny and clever
If you are a boring person, stupid and blind purist of Sherlock's "square old style", please, stay away of this book... go to the grave... and rest in peace.
Published on Sept. 24 2001 by Marcio Delgado
4.0 out of 5 stars Something diferent
Do you remember how you always asked yourself "What if bad guys get away and they are not caught at the end? Read more
Published on Sept. 5 2001 by Kramer
5.0 out of 5 stars Jo is the best!
I have to agree that for foreigners the book lose a bit of its humour as there are a lot of national jokes that are hard to understand. But for me it is a brilliant book. Read more
Published on Jan. 10 2001
3.0 out of 5 stars A Stadivarius and a serial killer
Brazilian author Jô Soares does what many authors do: brings the Great Detective to their home location. Read more
Published on Nov. 25 2000 by Amazon Customer
1.0 out of 5 stars Rubbish in the worst possible way!
Much has been said about missing the elements of Brazilian culture or humour in this lame pastiche, but personally, I think Sherlock Holmes is a universal icon and pastiches using... Read more
Published on June 15 2000
5.0 out of 5 stars highly recommended for a general readership
It's unusual for a light novel such as this to succeed on so many counts.

The humour is less compressed and explosive than Dave Barry's but with something of the same... Read more
Published on June 13 2000 by C. N. Gomersall
1.0 out of 5 stars The Unfortunate Adventure of Sherlock Holmes
Unfortunately, I have to rank this book among the top three worst novels I have ever read. Despite the alluring cover, the promise that it was an "International... Read more
Published on May 23 2000 by C. Michael Massey
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