A Passel of Teeny Reviews Part 1

Once again, big surprise, I find myself with
an overload of books read but not yet reviewed
so I think it’s time for a roundup or two.

Don’t Get Mad, Get Even
Colin Goodwin
2QT Limited, July 2015
ISBN 978-1-910077-60-3
Trade Paperback

This book had me chuckling quite a bit with its premise—blackmailing an English village’s cricket club to either win  a trophy or lose its playing ground. Along with this audacious crime, we have village ladies who truly appreciate the hired ringer’s skills and a shady real estate development plan. It’s all great fun even with sabotage and perhaps a little murder.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, August 2017.

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Cat in an Alphabet Endgame
The Midnight Louie Mysteries #28
Carole Nelson Douglas
Wishlist Publishing, August 2016
ISBN 978-1-943175-05-5
Trade Paperback

I confess, I put off reading this as long as I possibly could, so long I’m really embarrassed but I just did NOT want to see the end of this series I love so much. I didn’t want to know who Temple would marry, didn’t want all the little loose ends tied up in neat bows. Midnight Louie is the alpha and omega of feline sleuths and I adore his hardboiled, attitudinous self and, even knowing he was going to continue in different adventures sometime in the future, letting go was so very hard. But…I eventually had to give in and, of course, I enjoyed this book as much as all the others. Temple is distracted by thoughts of saying yes to one guy or the other, the mob has reared its ugly head, there are hints of terrorism and Louie and his Cat Pack are on the case(s). When it’s all said and done, Louie leaves us—and multitudes of Las Vegas felines—with a rousing speech and an offer of appetizers. Ah, Louie, Temple and the rest, I’m going to miss you (until you show up again).

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, August 2017.

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Memory
Sharon Ervin
The Wild Rose Press, March 2017
ISBN 978-1-5092-1290-3
Trade Paperback

Mistaken identity takes on a whole new meaning when a woman is killed and everyone thinks it’s Memory Smith. She hasn’t been run over but somebody certainly has thrown a punch at her and Assistant DA Mac McCann wants to know what’s going on with his former classmate. Did someone really mean to kill her? Memory is an odd woman but Mac is drawn to her and the mystery surrounding her supposed death. As you might expect in romantic suspense, an emotional attachment between the two of them soon takes on a life of its own but Memory may not survive long enough to see what might develop with Mac.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, August 2017.

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Crepe Factor
A Scrapbooking Mystery #14
Laura Childs with Terrie Farley Moran
Berkley Prime Crime, October 2016
ISBN 978-0-425-26670-0
Hardcover

Ms. Childs and Ms. Moran continue their collaboration in a charming mystery featuring the death by fork of a food critic (stick a fork in me, I’m done, anyone?) practically right in front of Carmela and Ava, sleuthing duo extraordinaire. Carmela’s previous relationship with the #1 suspect makes sticking her nose in a little dicey and her current boyfriend, police detective Edgar Babcock really wants her to stay out of his investigation but she and Ava can’t resist. A nifty whodunnit and characters that feel like old friends, not to mention a few recipes and scrapbooking tips round out this entertaining entry in the series. I always enjoy these two, especially the slightly loony Ava, and for a few hours while I’m reading one of these books, I can’t help wishing I had the patience and dedication to get into scrapbooking…but the urge passes until the next book 😉

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, August 2017.

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The Locket
On Dark Shores #0
J.A. Clement
Weasel Green Press, December 2016
Ebook

Every child gets excited and exceedingly nosy when Yuletide approaches and the seven-year-old Nereia is no exception. Her father has brought her a special surprise, her Godmother, stopping off for a visit before returning to her diplomatic duties in the midst of war and a beautiful silver locket marks Nereia’s first time taking part in the Yule ceremony. This is a sweet story, very short, and a prequel to Ms. Clement‘s On Dark Shores fantasy series. I think I would have gotten more out of it if I knew anything about the series and I don’t understand the description’s reference to “there is mystery in the air…” but I spent a pleasant few minutes with this small family.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, August 2017.

Book Review: The Inside Passage by Carl Brookins

The Inside PassageThe Inside Passage
Carl Brookins
Brookins Books, February 2016
ISBN 978-0-9853906-7-9
Trade Paperback

From the author—

Murder, mystery and adventure on the restless ocean waters off the rugged coast of British Columbia. Seattle PR executive Michael Tanner sails to Desolation Sound with his wife and their close friend. It’s a relaxing, shakedown cruise for three amateur sailors. On a foggy morning disaster strikes and Tanner stands accused of negligence. With no help from the authorities, Tanner sets out to find the people who murdered his wife and her friend.

Back in 2000, Carl Brookins launched the first entry in his Michael Tanner series which focused on a Seattle-based public relations executive who sailed as a hobby. Inner Passages was published by Top Publications and was followed by 4 more books. Now, the author has re-released a revised, updated edition under the title The Inside Passage and I’m very glad he did; in the ensuing 16 years, there is no doubt he has become a more accomplished writer and this new edition is all the better for it.

When a much larger boat runs down his sailboat, killing his wife and their friend, Michael Tanner becomes nearly obsessed with tracking it down, believing it to have been a deliberate attack. The authorities insist it was an accident and Michael’s friends and colleagues watch worriedly as he puts his life and career aside to search for the yacht and answers. Some people believe Michael was at fault and, while he knows in his heart the deaths of Beth and Alice were intentional, he can’t help the feelings of inadequacy and guilt. He isn’t alone, though—his partners, Jeremiah and Perry, stand beside him in his quest.

The beauty of this book lies in the author’s clear love and knowledge of sailing, evoking the lure of nautical experiences that simply can’t be fully understood by those, like me, who have limited exposure to life on the water. His descriptions of the fog…the loneliness and isolation as well as the creepiness that comes naturally with not being able to see your surroundings…put me right on that doomed boat. Another element of the story that I found unusual and really sensible is the passing of time. This is no mystery solved in two days or a week; months, even years, go by and that, to me, is really logical when it comes to an amateur investigation. This also allows for the introduction of a new love interest, Mary Whitney, without it seeming as though things were rushed.

Mr. Brookins drew me into Michael’s world and his need to find the answers that will bring justice for Beth and Alice and, perhaps, peace for himself. I like this new and improved Michael Tanner and hope to see much more of him in the future.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, December 2016.

Book Review: Cat in a Zebra Zoot Suit by Carole Nelson Douglas.

Cat in a Zebra Zoot Suit 2Cat in a Zebra Zoot Suit
A Midnight Louie Mystery #27
Carole Nelson Douglas
Wishlist Publishing,
ISBN 978-1-943175-02-4
Trade Paperback

From the author—

In Cat in a Zebra Zoot Suit, feline PI Midnight Louie’s roommate, powerhouse PR freelancer Temple Barr, discovers a strip club opening in a nearby empty building threatens her elderly landlady’s wedding chapel business. Electra Lark’s troubles go supernova with a murder charge for a death that echoes a bizarre slaying decades earlier. While Temple’s fiance, Matt Devine, ex-priest radio shrink, plays detective with a rough crowd getting rougher, her ex, magician-counterterrorist Max Kinsella, dodges IRA remnants in Ireland, where psychotic stalker Kathleen O’Connor claims she’s found his cousin, presumed dead from a pub bombing years earlier. All the investigators’ pasts draw them into shocking revelations of present peril. Temple and Louie must solve why a forgotten fifties night club, Zoot Suit Choo-Choo, is again a nexus of death and greed.

He’s short, he’s debonair, he’s a savvy man about town and private eye. He’s the inimitable Midnight Louie, CEO of Midnight Investigations and the only roommate he thinks Miss Temple Barr, amateur detective and red-headed PR maven, needs in their Las Vegas condo. Unfortunately, Temple’s main squeeze, Matt Devine, doesn’t see things the same way.

I’m a fan of series although I’ve become very lax about keeping up with even my favorites just because there are so many good books to be read. Some series, in my opinion, become kind of tired when they go on too long so I tend to skip an entry or two and then pick it up again; the break usually works and I find the series entertaining again. Very few keep my undivided attention and Midnight Louie is one of those few. I’m one title out of sequence—haven’t read Cat in a Yellow Spotlight yet—but that’s OK because time moves glacially from one book to the next and it’ll be easy for me to pick that one up. In the meantime, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed Cat in a Zebra Zoot Suit as I knew I would. The thing about really good series is that you can trust the author and her characters to not let you down.

This go round, it’s Electra, Temple’s landlady, who’s in trouble when her ex-husband gets killed and she had a really good motive to do him in. Meanwhile, Temple’s former boyfriend, Max, is busy avoiding killers in Ireland, not to mention fending off his crazy stalker, Kathleen, and Matt is contemplating a career move while doing a little undercover work of his own. While the humans are thus engaged, Louie and his unacknowledged daughter, Louise, are intent on finding out why someone broke into the condo and scared the heck out of the sleeping Temple (who was, of course, rescued by her wrathful kitty). He’s also wondering why the snooty bookstore cat, Ingram, has once again come into his life, much to his dismay.

I love dogs and all sorts of other animals but my heart belongs to the feline tribe and a visit with Louie and his colleagues on the mean streets of Las Vegas is like indulging in comfort food. Better yet is comfort food and Louie 😉 I’m of two minds about the next book in the series, Cat in an Alphabet Endgame, because I want another Louie adventure but it will be the last in the series. The wonderful Ms. Douglas isn’t leaving her fans in the lurch, though—she’s promised that Louie will have a new set of adventures and I can hardly wait!

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, October 2015.

Book Review: Asylum by Jeannette de Beauvoir

AsylumAsylum
Jeannette de Beauvoir
Minotaur Books, March 2015
ISBN 978-1-250-04539-3
Hardcover

From the publisher—

Martine LeDuc is the director of PR for the mayor’s office in Montreal. When four women are found brutally murdered and shockingly posed on park benches throughout the city over several months, Martine’s boss fears a PR disaster for the still busy tourist season, and Martine is now also tasked with acting as liaison between the mayor and the police department. The women were of varying ages, backgrounds and bodytypes and seemed to have nothing in common. Yet the macabre presentation of their bodies hints at a connection. Martine is paired with a young detective, Julian Fletcher, and together they dig deep into the city’s and the country’s past, only to uncover a dark secret dating back to the 1950s, when orphanages in Montreal and elsewhere were converted to asylums in order to gain more funding. The children were subjected to horrific experiments such as lobotomies, electroshock therapy, and psychotropic medication, and many of them died in the process. The survivors were supposedly compensated for their trauma by the government and the cases seem to have been settled. So who is bearing a grudge now, and why did these four women have to die?

Not until Martine finds herself imprisoned in the terrifying steam tunnels underneath the old asylum does she put the pieces together. And it is almost too late for her…

The evil that humans can do can never be a real surprise but it is still shocking to discover that there seem to be few, if any, limits to that evil. Asylum opens a window on a time in Montreal’s past that was entirely unknown to me and, I suspect, to many readers.

I’m of two minds when contemplating how to describe my reaction to this book. On the one hand, it’s a really good mystery, a mixture of amateur sleuth and police procedural. There are a few too many coincidences and Martine escapes harm a bit too facilely sometimes but she’s a likeable protagonist as is Detective Julian Fletcher. I enjoyed riding along with them as they investigated and didn’t guess things too early. In short, this is a well-written piece of crime fiction.

On the other hand, the voices of the children in the asylum were heartbreaking and any reader who can’t bear seeing harm come to children should probably avoid, if not the entire book, at least the italicized sections at the end of some chapters. I happen to believe it’s important to know our history even if it seems we don’t often learn from it; if we don’t examine what our forbears have done, it’s much more likely such things will happen again. Ms. de Beauvoir includes an Author’s Note that reveals the known truths behind the story and the list of names of some of the victims is especially poignant. When all is said and done, this is a disturbing tale but I’m glad to have read it.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, March 2015.

Book Review: Cat in an Alien X-Ray by Carole Nelson Douglas—and a Giveaway!

Cat in an Alien X-RayCat in an Alien X-Ray
A Midnight Louie Mystery
Carole Nelson Douglas
Forge, August 2013
ISBN 978-0-7653-2748-2
Hardcover

From the publisher—

Cat in an Alien X-Ray takes the Las Vegas gang on a science-fictional roller-coaster ride, as Midnight Louie, feline PI, and company encounter UFO enthusiasts, conspiracy nuts who are too bizarre even for tin foil hat therapy. An Area 51 attraction on the Strip threatens to bring more than starry-eyed enthusiasts to town. Once again it is up to that furballed PI Midnight Louie to keep his crew in line and save them from the attack of the creatures from the beyond…or common criminals that prey on the innocent.

Visiting with Midnight Louie, Temple Barr and all their colleagues is always—ALWAYS—a treat and Cat in an Alien X-Ray is certainly no exception. After so many books (this is #25!), this series has cemented itself in my affections and has become, over the years, one of my favorite comfort reads. I don’t expect that to be true with all mystery readers; after all, some can’t handle cats who think and act in a human-like manner even if they don’t speak to us. Still, a hardboiled detective who harks back to the likes of Sam Spade and Philip Marlowe is nothing but fun when said detective is a feline, especially when he tells his side of the story. In Louie’s own words—

Being short, dark, and handsome…really short…gets me overlooked and underestimated, which is what the savvy operative wants anyway. I am your perfect undercover guy. I also like to hunker down under the covers with my little doll. So would some other guys, but they do not have my lush hirsute advantages.

Public relations expert Temple Barr has met some crazy people in her time in Las Vegas but, in a city full of aggressive and flashy dream peddlers, Silas T. Farnum stands out in a crowd. That tip of the nomenclative hat to P. T. Barnum tells you a lot about who this little gnome of a man might be but Temple finds that he’s also sort of irresistible so she signs on to promote his UFO attraction. Unfortunately, the building site soon becomes a crime scene and the very subject of UFOs brings out the, er, nutjobs.  Meanwhile, Temple is also doing a juggling act with her former and current love interests and a serial killer with intent to do harm to them all may be back in town.

Midnight Louie, of course, is on the case from day one, even before Temple agrees to rep Farnum’s project, and his long experience with snooping and sniffing out the facts stands him in good stead. The Strip and the off-Strip are Louie’s territory and no one knows the city like he does but his efforts at getting answers are hampered somewhat by the continual intrusions of his so-called off-spring (plausible deniability!), Midnight Louise. Louise, who wants to follow in Pops’ footsteps, is on her own case but the two are intertwined so Louie reluctantly engages Louise and the two set out to solve the crime(s) with a little help from some temporary agents (the Cat Pack) and a few feathered friends.

One thing I especially like about this series is that time moves glacially. As a result, only two years plus have gone by since we first met Temple and Louie and, although that means they’re finding bodies and other criminal goings-on seemingly every month or so (shades of Cabot Cove!), that is perfectly okay with me. Sometimes, I want my sleuths to age along with me but there are also times when I’ll give up that nod to reality because it means I can hang on to my beloved characters as long as the author can keep writing their stories. I look forward to sharing many more adventures with this Las Vegas crew, furry and otherwise.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, August 2013.

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Two lucky readers will each win a hardcover copy of Cat in an Alien X-Ray

by Carole Nelson Douglas and you have two chances to enter the
drawing. For the first entry, go back and leave a comment on Carole’s

August 2nd guest post. For a second entry, leave a comment here on today’s
review. The winning names will be chosen at random on the  evening of Tuesday,
August 13th. This drawing is open to residents of the US, UK and Canada.

Book Reviews: The Night Season by Chelsea Cain, Shatter the Bones by Stuart MacBride, In Desperation by Rick Mofina, Damage Control by Denise Hamilton, and A Vine in the Blood by Leighton Gage

The Night Season
Chelsea Cain
Minotaur Books, March 2011
ISBN: 978-0-312-61976-3
Hardcover

In this, the fourth book in the series featuring police detective Archie Sheridan, Gretchen Lowell, the beautiful but masochistic serial killer who in previous entries shared the stage with Archie, is little more than backdrop, a recurring theme playing almost entirely offstage.  Gretchen has now been in jail for six months [after having been recaptured].  This time reporter Susan Ward plays a larger role, working almost in tandem with Archie, the cop who lived to tell the tale of the Beauty Killer and has still not quite recovered.  [For the uninitiated, Archie headed up the task force searching for the gorgeous psychopath for ten years before she caught him three years earlier.  She had held him captive and tortured him in ways too lurid to be described here.  It nearly cost him his life; it did cost him his marriage.]  After spending two months in a psych ward, he is now, at 41 years of age, eight months clean of painkillers and six months out of inpatient treatment, and allowed to go back to work in the police department.

The killer which is front and center this time around is the swollen Willamette River in Portland.  But it seems that a human killer is at work as well:  Among those swept away by the flood waters are several who were killed before they were left to drown, poisoned by one of the most bizarre methods one is ever likely to find in a novel.  As the cops investigate, one of their own is an early victim.  There are parallels between the current fictional natural disaster and one which actually did completely wipe out another Willamette River city more than 60 years earlier.

Readers can be reassured that this book does not have any of the graphic descriptions of the pleasures in which Gretchen indulged in the earlier books.  For those that miss the gore, the author notes in an acknowledgement that she will make up for it next time.  With or without those elements the book makes for great reading, as did the others.  It is another suspenseful entry in the series and, as those earlier books, is recommended.

Reviewed by Gloria Feit, June 2011.

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Shatter the Bones
Stuart MacBride
HarperCollins, January 2011
ISBN: 978-0-00-734421-5
Hardcover

[It should be noted that this is the UK edition; the US edition is not yet available]

Alison McGregor and her six-year-old daughter, Jenny, Aberdeen’s huge favorites to win the competition on the hit tv show Britain’s Next Big
Star, have made it to the semi-finals.  Suddenly they are kidnapped, and the ransom note soon received says they will be killed if an indeterminate ransom is not paid within fourteen days.  Contributions are made across the country from their millions of fans.  The police are stymied – there are no witnesses, and no trace of forensic evidence can be found on either the ransom notes or the gruesome videos which the police are examining, and there are absolutely no clues as to who is behind the crime.  Needless to say, the media, and the public, are in an uproar, and the detectives are being hounded by both, as well as by the head of the CID and other investigative agencies.

There is a second story line dealing with a routine drug bust which goes seriously awry, with the drug dealer managing to escape despite handcuffs and the presence of numerous police officers designed to prevent just that from happening.  The ramifications of this are far-reaching and brutal, and very personal for DS Logan McRae.

This latest entry in this wonderful series moves at a slower pace than I remembered the earlier books being, perhaps reflective of the actual way in which serious crime investigations happen in real life.  But trust me, by the time the reader approaches the wrap-up of this well-written tale of celebrity culture run amok, the reader will be turning the pages swiftly to reach the suspense-filled ending as time is running out and the deadline approaches.

Logan McRae, his significant other, Samantha, and the cops on the Grampian Police force who readers have met in the earlier books are wonderfully well drawn.  McRae is a very human and believable protagonist, and I can’t wait for his return in the next series entry. Highly recommended.

Reviewed by Gloria Feit, June 2011.

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In Desperation
Rick Mofina
MIRA Books, April 2011
ISBN: 978-0-7783-2948-0
Mass Market Paperback

Before the end of the first chapter of In Desperation, Rick Mofina’s newest entry in the Jack Gannon series, Tilly, the eleven-year-old daughter of Cora Martin, has been kidnapped by two gunmen, who tell her that her boss has stolen five million dollars from them, and that he has five days to return it or Tilly will be killed, threatening the same fate if the police are called in.  In her desperation, Cora calls the only family she has, that person being the brother with whom she has had no contact for over twenty years:  Jack Gannon.

Gannon, a 35-year-old loner from blue-collar Buffalo, New York, is also a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist with a national wire service. And the call he receives from Cora is more unsettling to him than anything he can recall.  When she was seventeen and he was twelve, she was his hero, his big sister protector, until she left some twenty years ago and never returned, leaving her family to embark on a futile search for her over the ensuing years.  Her pleas to Jack to help her find the niece he never knew he had take him from Juarez, Mexico, “one of the world’s most violent cities with a homicide rate greater than any other city on earth, where he has been working on a story dealing with the drug cartels that had taken over every aspect life in that country, and go to the suburbs of Phoenix, Arizona where Cora lives. He insists that the police be notified, despite the kidnappers’ threat, which only widens the danger as it appears, as has been widely discussed in the press in the novel as well as the real-life media that surrounds us all, that police agencies in the US have been infiltrated by the cartel members, an acknowledged fact of life in Mexico.

Except for the final few pages, all the ensuing action takes place over a five-day period, hard to believe for all the action that is packed into that time frame.  The reader is teased from the first with references to a secret that Cora will not reveal, something from her past that she convinces herself cannot possibly have any connection with her present crisis.  Cora’s boss, the one who is supposed to have pulled off this rip-off of some very dangerous men, seems to have disappeared, and all attempts to locate him end in failure.

Always engrossing, the book has the high level of suspense typical of Mr. Mofina’s writing.  One quibble this reader had was that I found it less than credible that Gannon, already suspecting that the investigation may have been compromised, approaches a lead, a man with a very unsavory background, giving him full details of the investigation to that point in order to elicit information from him that will give him further avenues to pursue.  But hey, desperate times call for desperate measures.  Jack’s journalistic instincts push him to proceed, and put him in a difficult position – he has a job to do, and a story to write, even as he fights to distance himself from the fact that he is writing about his own family.  Bodies start showing up, killed in gruesome ways, and they must find Tilly before she becomes just one more.  They discover that an assassin, or sicario, has been dispatched to find those missing millions, and to eliminate any loose ends, or witnesses.

Sure to hold the reader’s attention to the very end, the book leads the reader to think he or she knows where they are being taken – but don’t be too sure.  The author has a very sure hand, and surprises are in store.  Recommended.

Reviewed by Gloria Feit, August 2011.

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Damage Control
Denise Hamilton
Scribner, September 2011
ISBN: 978-0-7432-9674-9
Hardcover

On the very first page of the prologue to Damage Control, the terrific new book by Denise Hamilton, the reader meets high school student Maggie Weinstock.  Fast forward sixteen years:  Maggie is now Maggie Silver, divorced, and 33 years old.  The crux of the plot stems from that earlier time frame, when Maggie, in her first two years of high school, met the Paxtons, who became the “golden ones” in her young life.  Before “BFF” became part of the vernacular, their daughter, Anabelle, was that and more – she was everything Maggie admired and, to some extent, envied. And her good-looking brother, Luke, was a Surf God.

Maggie now works for the top crisis management firm in L.A., doing corporate PR.  The newest client to whose case she is assigned is a U.S. Senator with a wife and grown children, a probable candidate for vice president in the next election, whose 23-year-old female aide has been found murdered, in a scenario reminiscent of the one involving Gary Conduit and Chandra Levy a decade ago.  The senator is none other than Henry Paxton, Anabelle’s father, who had been a father figure and a role model to Maggie all those years ago.  Welcome to the wonderful world of “damage control,” or spin.

This novel provides a fascinating glimpse, in a schadenfreude way, into a world about which most readers know little.  Maggie suspects that her past involvement with the Paxton family is what brought the assignment to her desk.  She believes, and tells her colleagues, that no member of that family is capable of murder.  The response is that “everyone’s capable of murder if you give them the right reason.”  But she is determined to prove that no member of the family is guilty. The backstory of Maggie’s friendship with Anabelle, and how it ended, is the lens through which Maggie views the Paxtons.  In the end, it’s all about the secrets we keep from one another.  As with the earlier books by Ms. Hamilton, comprised of the five books in the Eve Diamond series as well as The Last Embrace, a standalone, Damage Control is thoroughly entertaining, and is recommended.

Reviewed by Gloria Feit, October 2011.

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A Vine in the Blood
Leighton Gage
Soho Crime, December 2011
ISBN: 978-1-61695-004-0
Hardcover

This is the fifth novel in the series, referred to as the Inspector Mario Silva Investigations, and it is every bit as delightful as the others.  “Delightful” might be a strange adjective for a book concerning kidnapping and murder, but it is entirely fitting.

Football [or, as the Americans call it, ‘soccer’] is the most popular sport in Brazil, and the FIFA World Cup the premier event in that sport, and Tico Santos, known as The Artist, is considered the greatest player in the history of the sport.  As the book opens, three weeks before the first game is to take place in Brazil [the only country to have won the Cup five times and hosting the series for the first time in more than sixty years], Juraci Santos, his mother, is kidnapped.  Other victims are Juraci’s servants, two young women brutally murdered.

The effect in the country is devastating – does Brazil have a chance of beating Argentina without their star player?  The headlines speak of nothing else, and the pressure on the police, and on Director Mario Silva, is enormous.  The possibilities are endless: the Argentineans themselves; The Artist’s gold-digging girlfriend; his principal rival, who wants to play in Tico’s place; and a man whose career was destroyed when Tico broke his leg in a match.  Or is it just about the $5,000,000 ransom demand?

The usual complement of background factors of this series is present:  The corruption inherent throughout the justice system and the police [to which Silva, called the “sharpest criminal investigator in this country,” is known as an incorruptible exception], and Silva’s colleagues, including charming Haraldo “Babyface” Goncalves [so called because although he is 34 he looks 22].  There is also Fiorello Rosa, PhD and master kidnapper currently serving a 14-year prison sentence, an unlikely expert consulted by Silva to assist in the investigation, with everyone mindful of the fact that the kidnapped woman is likely to be killed before her abductors can be found.  The terrific writing makes this a fast read, and one that is highly recommended.

Reviewed by Gloria Feit, December 2011.