Senhor Jose is a clerk in the Central Registry of Births, Marriages and Deaths. This ordinary bachelor civil servant collects details of famous people as a hobby. By chance one day he picks out a card belonging to an unknown woman whilst collecting details about the famous people. An obsession with finding out about the woman begins and soon Senhor Jose is forging investigative letters from his boss the Registrar. He goes to the address on her birth certificate and meets an old woman in a ground floor flat who turns out to be the unknown woman's god mother. She has not had contact with her since the girl was at school. Armed with the school's details Senhor Jose breaks into the school one weekend to look at the unknown woman's record cards. He catches flu that weekend and must uncharacteristically take time off work. However recovered during routine filing he discovers that the unknown woman has died. He goes to the General Cemetery to find out details of her death and visit her grave. On his return he finds the Registrar in his house and the Registrar says he has been following Senhor Jose's progress and urges him to destroy the unknown woman's death certificate so that she will always be alive. This book delightfully explores the anxieties and tribulations of Senhor Jose's obsession.
This report prepared by John Marcel