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By Leighton Gage


ISBN-13: 978-1-56947-845-5 (Hardcover, 2010) $25.00
ISBN-13: 978-1569479988 (Paperback, October, 2011) $14.00
Kindle eBook: $10.08

Reviewed by Shirley Wetzel

Two men in different Brazilian cities, one a wealthy oil engineer, the other a psychologist famous for his books on sexuality, are murdered in the same brutal fashion, but no one thinks to link the two, and they are written off as just two more unsolved crimes. It is not until the son of the Venezuelan foreign minister, who is a very good friend to people in high places in Brazil, is murdered that the police pay attention. Chief Inspector Mario Silva, of the Federal Police, is called in to work on the case. He has his men look for similar MO's, and they find not only the first two, but two more. The murders took place in four different cities, with no obvious connections among the victims. While the other three victims were of similar status, the fourth was a thug who spent his first day out of prison getting dead drunk, and his first night just getting dead.

Silva and his team do figure out the link, but not before a young boy is murdered in jail. He'd ended up there, not for a crime he'd committed, but because a government official decided to single him out in a random search at the airport just to "mess with him." When asked why he did this, the official says casually "what good is power if you don't abuse it?" This is a prime example of the situation in Brazil, where crime and corruption are rampant. Silva stands out as a straight arrow, a man who might let some infractions of the law slip by, but who will not let the person who brutally murdered a young boy go unpunished.

Once the connection is discovered, Silva is left with a group of people who are potential murder victims: all but one, who is the killer. The motive is still unclear, so each person could be either in danger or a stone cold killer. The team has to travel to the far reaches of the country to locate some of the people on the list. In their travels the reader is given a look at the beauty and diversity of the country. All the people they track down have secrets, but they are all ruled out as the murderer. They must be protected, and Silva must fulfill a promise he made to a grieving mother that he would find the person who is responsible for her son's death.

This is the fourth in the Chief Inspector Mario Silva Investigation series. Once again, Gage has delivered a fine police procedural. Brazil is a country that is full of contradictions, where all too often the rich get the best of everything, including protection against crime and justice when they are victimized, and the poor are ignored, their deaths of little note. Not all officials are corrupt or inept, however, as Silva and his team demonstrates.

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