Maquel is a young used car salesman from the mean streets of So Paulo with a bad toothache and a bleak outlook: "The essence of man, the material he's made of, is something black and stinking." When a petty barroom tiff turns sour, Maquel gets his first taste of the kill. But instead of being arrested, he is lauded as a local hero. Yet something in the undertow continues to trouble him. Deeply. Maquel pays a visit to Dr. Carvalho--a dentist with gleaming canines and a peculiar interest in violence. The doctor lectures Maquel on "the theory of the born criminal" and offers him a deal: free dental care in exchange for the death of the man who raped his daughter. Soon the dentist's wealthy friends want to make deals with Maquel, too. Maquel has become The Killer. Thus bombarded from without and within, Maquel's life in crime escalates to stunning heights. Brutal infidelities are committed, Mafia-style dealings are conducted, and civic honors are bestowed. From there, the fall is devastating.