Rio de Janeiro. A family hotel whose clients reflect Brazilian society, multi-racial, with starkly contrasting backgrounds, and destitute.
Rio is the perfect backdrop with its dictatorships, drug wars, child gangs and violent policing tactics.
The first victim is found decapitated in bed, the head lying on the floor of his room.
An eerie Mona Lisa smile on the victim's face and no evidence of a struggle indicate a murderer received as a friend.
Other hotel guests are eventually killed, all decapitated.
A classical crime novel in one way but really an opportunity for the author to describe Brazilian society, especially those left behind. Fascinating back stories are told such as that of the maid who dreams of making it in television soaps, and the female pimp who has survived incestuous rape, wrapped in a suspenseful intrigue that could have been thought up by Ruth Rendell.