A VINE IN THE BLOOD continues the excellent Mario Silva series by Leighton Gage. Set in Brazil, this entry into the series has some light-hearted moments absent in previous books in the series but make no mistake in thinking that Silva has an easier time in this outing.
A VINE IN THE BLOOD continues the excellent Mario Silva series set in Brazil. Leighton Gage addresses society’s problems by looking at them within the context of Brazil but these problems aren’t confined to one country.
BLOOD OF THE WICKED appears to be about land reform and then becomes something else. BURIED STRANGERS is about greed and the boundaries some will cross to satisfy the lust for money. DYING GASP addresses one of the worst problems in every society, child pornography and sex trafficking. EVERY BITTER THING looks at revenge and the degree to which someone will go to exact retribution. A VINE IN THE BLOOD is about fame, fortune, and familial ties.
Tico Santos is a football (soccer to Americans) star on whom the hopes of a nation are built as Brazil prepares to face Argentina in the final round of the World Cup. The rivalry between these two countries brings every other legendary sports rivalry down to the level of games played by five year-olds. Known as The Artist, Brazil’s football fortunes depend entirely on Tico’s skills.
The story begins when gardener Luca Vaz realizes that there is something not quite right at the home of Juraci Santos, mother of the Hope of Brazil. He finds the two maids on the kitchen floor, shot execution-style. There is no sign of Senhora Santos but there is a syringe with a minute amount of fluid on the bed.
At no time does anyone think that Juraci Santos was kidnapped by an enemy she had made. Tico Santos, football star extraordinaire, is the target of the evil-doers who know he can’t play well if his mother is in danger. Motives abound. Tico’s girlfriend is a world class model and a D-list acting talent who knows Tico’s mother hates her so much that she has hired a private investigator to dig up whatever dirt can be found. Juraci has made it no secret that she wants Cintia Tadesco to be her son’s ex-girlfriend. Tico is surrounded by lawyers, agents, and general hangers-on who make a lot of money off the talents of the “futebol” star and there are is no end to the list of gamblers who could win a great deal of money by betting on Argentina if Tico can’t play. Without Tico, Brazil’s lock on the World Cup disappears. The World Cup series only happens once every four years; Brazil has bested Argentina in the previous three championship games with every expectation of doing it a fourth time. Nelson Sampaio, Silva’s boss, is convinced that the Argentinians are responsible because a missing mother is bound to put the star off his game. Sampaio proves, again, the worthiness of his political appointment by insisting that all Silva’s resources be used to prove this point by arresting Argentinian men living in Brazil and drinking at their clubs.
Silva and his team know that the best way to deal with their boss is by ignoring him. The police fear that if they don’t identify the kidnappers soon they will follow through on their threats to kill Senhora Santos. This is not about a football game; something far greater is at stake. As the author puts it the Argentinians wouldn’t kidnap someone in order to guarantee a win. It is in the character of those from Argentina to believe they are always going to win despite all evidence to the contrary.
Brazil, like other countries, deals with illegal gambling, threats to judges who follow their consciences, the extreme inequities of an economic class structure that condemns the majority to abject poverty, and the killing of innocent people in the furtherance of greed. Gage writes to reflect the reality of the country, especially in a city as enormous as Sao Paulo. There are lighter moments in the telling of the story. Gage offers the most succinct and clear description of a character when he gives the character two words of dialogue: “What’s deodorant?”
Leighton Gage has a social conscience that forms his characters. Mario Silva and the members of his team are decent, honorable people who do their best to serve the people whom they have sworn to protect. It isn’t an easy life for them in a country where the judicial system is described as the best money can buy.
I was hooked on A VINE IN THE BLOOD from the first sentence. As with the other books in the series. the author tells a story that grabs the reader immediately. In a world filled with wonderful books and talented authors, there is no one who is better than Leighton Gage.
This review was posted on Amazon UK April 11,2011