Set in modern day Rio de Janeiro, Pursuit is a taut psychological drama told in three parts. In the first story, a psychiatrist, Dr. Arturo Nesse, contacts Inspector Espinsza of the 12th Precinct to report that he is being stalked by a patient: a young man, Isidore Cruz, who insists his real name is Jonas. Jonas is an enigma and remains so throughout the book, the object of the doctor’s growing fears for the safety of himself and his family.
As the sessions with Jonas progress, the young man appears frequently at the hospital grounds, always within view of Nesse’s office. When Jonas approaches Nesse’s older daughter, Leticia, the two disappear for two days. When Leticia returns home, her father is furious, and in his rage sets events in motion that will disrupt his family’s subtle balance, leaving their lives spiraling into chaos.
Inspector Espinosa is almost peripheral to the story at this point as Jonas, once hospitalized, cannot be found and is presumed dead. The inspector becomes more actively involved by the second story, after receiving a call that the doctor’s younger daughter, Roberta, has disappeared. Espinosa is positive that the parents are withholding information but cannot budge them from their stories.
By story number three, things are terribly wrong in this family, Dr. Nesse is all but estranged from his two daughters and separated from his wife. Living in near squalor, his once organized life in dishabille, his personal habits and behavior growing more bizarre by the day.
Then Nesse’s ex-wife, Dona Teresa, is found dead outside her apartment. The mystery quickly unravels into false trails and contrary evidence as Espinosa and his detectives scramble to make sense of a case shrouded in mystery, peopled by ghosts: “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde aren’t just creatures out of literature. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde are all of us.”
Garcia-Roza’s genius lies in revealing the complex inner workings of a tormented mind and how the mental illness of one infects those around him. In this convoluted psychological drama, the real and the imagined are entwined, the characters’ perceptions of themselves and their situations distorted by fear.
Eerie and discomfiting, Dr. Nesse’s complaints evoke danger from a perspective where logic has no purchase: the bleak landscape of a tormented mind. With minimal aid from forensic evidence, Inspector Espinosa must trust his instinct beyond the parameters of the common criminal investigation, drawn into the murky world of the subconscious.