A Vine in the Blood
A Mario Silva Investigation by Leighton Gage
Review: Just 13 days before the start of the FIFA World Cup, the mother of Brazil's star player, known to one and all as "The Artist", is kidnapped, prompting a national effort to locate her in A Vine in the Blood, the fifth mystery in this series by Leighton Gage.
Tico "The Artist" Santos has left training to assist the police with their investigation of his mother's abduction. If she isn't found — alive … and soon — the fear is he'll be distracted from playing and Brazil will be in danger if losing to their arch-enemy, Argentina. The Minister of Justice has taken a personal interest in the case, and is putting pressure on the Federal Police to solve it as quickly as possible. The Director, never one to get personally involved with a case but always the first to take credit for a successful one, assigns Chief Inspector Mario Silva to head the investigation.
There seem to be no shortage of suspects. The woman was universally hated by everyone but her son. Players for both Brazil and Argentina could have engineered the crime: the former to prove that there's no "i" in "team", as nearly everyone credits "The Artist" with Brazil's success while overlooking the contributions of his teammates; the latter to give their team an edge in the competition. Or maybe it was a crime for monetary gain, as $5 million in diamonds is demanded as ransom, opening the door to an even larger pool of potential suspects. Silva and his team have their hands full, indeed.
A Vine in the Blood takes full advantage of a variation in the principle of Occam's razor, the human tendency to devise complex solutions to a problem when the simpler one is usually the right one. Though Silva and his team believe the crime is relatively straight-forward, his superiors, and even the press, seem to demand one that is more complicated, more interesting, more appropriate to a national superstar. It's quite entertaining to follow along with the investigation and the various tangential paths it takes, not only because they may represent intentional misdirection on the part of the author but because all of them seem plausible at the time.
There's a nice balance between the seriousness of the crimes — there is more than just the kidnapping involved here — and the frequently humorous banter between the characters. The resolution has a number of unexpected elements to it, and in the end, the "deft and in-depth management of the case and intuitive crime-solving skills" are attributed to — no surprise here — Silva's superior, the Director of the Federal Police.
Acknowledgment: Soho Press provided an ARC of A Vine in the Blood for this review.
Review Copyright © 2012 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Selected reviews of other mysteries by this author …
Every Bitter Thing
Soho Crime (Hardcover), December 2010
ISBN-13: 9781569478455; ISBN-10: 1569478457
Soho Press (Hardcover), February 2013
ISBN-13: 9781616951764; ISBN-10: 1616951761
Location(s) referenced in A Vine in the Blood: Brazil
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A Vine in the Blood by Leighton Gage — A Mario Silva Investigation
Publisher: Soho Press
Publication Date: December 2011
List Price: $24.00