Brazilian filmmaker and author Rubem Fonesca has written that highest of treats: a literary thriller that tickles both the cerebellum and the adrenaline gland. The unnamed hero of this novel is, like Fonesca, a filmmaker, but one who has temporarily abandoned the world of cinema in order to make television commercials for his televangelist brother. On the eve of an important meeting with a German film company, the narrator receives an unexpected visitor, a strange woman named Angélica, who apparently rang his doorbell at random in order to escape from unseen assailants. He allows her to spend the night, but when he awakes the following morning, his houseguest is gone. There is only a mysterious package and a note: "'My friend,' Angélica's tiny writing was hard to read. 'Thank you very much for saving my life.... Please take care of this package for me, hide it well, and one day I'll come back for it. Your friend Angélica.'"
It seems Angélica spoke her gratitude too soon; it isn't long before her murdered corpse is discovered, and the narrator finds himself up to his neck in nefarious plots, smuggled jewels, rare manuscripts, and underhanded schemes both political and literary in which the works of the great Russian writer Isaac Babel figure prominently. Fonesca weaves not only these intriguing strands, but also an elusive personal tragedy, more sex than you can shake a stick at, and fascinating meditations on the life and work of Babel into this complex tapestry without ever dropping a stitch. Vast Emotions and Imperfect Thoughts is a vastly entertaining and near-perfect read.