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A Vine in the Blood

Cover of A Vine in the Blood

A Vine in the Blood

Chief Inspector Mario Silva Series, Book 5
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It is the eve of the FIFA World Cup, the globe's premier sporting event. The host country is Brazil. A victory for the home team is inextricably linked to the skills of the country's principal striker, Tico "The Artist" Santos, the greatest player in the history of the sport. All the politicians in Brasilia, from the President of the Republic on down, have their seats squared-away for the finale, when they hope to see Argentina, Brazil's bitterest rival, humbled by the Brazilian eleven. But then, just three weeks before the first game, Juraci Santos, Tico's mother, is kidnapped. The star is distraught. The public is appalled. The politicians are outraged. And the pressure is on Chief Inspector Mario Silva to get her back.

Suspects aren't lacking. Among them, are a cabal of Argentineans, suspected of having spirited the lady away to put Tico off his game, the star's gold-digging, top-model girlfriend, whom his mother dislikes and has been trying to get out of his life, his principal rival, who wants to play in the World Cup in Tico's place, and the man whose leg Tico broke during a match, thereby destroying his career. In the end, Silva and his crew discover that the solution to the mystery is less complex - but entirely unexpected.

It is the eve of the FIFA World Cup, the globe's premier sporting event. The host country is Brazil. A victory for the home team is inextricably linked to the skills of the country's principal striker, Tico "The Artist" Santos, the greatest player in the history of the sport. All the politicians in Brasilia, from the President of the Republic on down, have their seats squared-away for the finale, when they hope to see Argentina, Brazil's bitterest rival, humbled by the Brazilian eleven. But then, just three weeks before the first game, Juraci Santos, Tico's mother, is kidnapped. The star is distraught. The public is appalled. The politicians are outraged. And the pressure is on Chief Inspector Mario Silva to get her back.

Suspects aren't lacking. Among them, are a cabal of Argentineans, suspected of having spirited the lady away to put Tico off his game, the star's gold-digging, top-model girlfriend, whom his mother dislikes and has been trying to get out of his life, his principal rival, who wants to play in the World Cup in Tico's place, and the man whose leg Tico broke during a match, thereby destroying his career. In the end, Silva and his crew discover that the solution to the mystery is less complex - but entirely unexpected.

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Excerpts-
  • Chapter One

    Less than an hour after Juraci Santos was unceremoniously
    dumped into the back seat of her kidnappers' getaway
    car, Luca Vaz crept through her front gate and poisoned her
    bougainvilleas.

    The way he figured it, he didn't have a choice. And it
    wasn't his fault. It was the fault of that lying lowlife, Mateo
    Lima.

    "You're sure about the color of these bougainvilleas?"
    Juraci had asked when he was planting them.

    "I'm sure, Senhora," he'd assured her. "Blood red, like you
    told me."

    "Guaranteed?"

    "Guaranteed, Senhora."

    "All right, Luca. But you'd better be right. Because, if they
    flower in any other color. . . ."

    She left the threat unspecified. But a threat it was--and
    he knew it.

    Three weeks later, the roof fell in: Luca learned that those
    new plants of hers were about to flower in a color his wife,
    Amanda, had described as the palest purple I've ever seen on a
    bougainvillea. If Juraci Santos, a woman known to be as vindictive
    as she was distrustful, discovered the truth, he'd be in
    big trouble.

    Luca's advance notice of the situation stemmed from the
    fact that he'd swiped one of the cuttings and planted it to
    the right of his front door. Unlike the bougainvilleas along
    Juraci's wall, it had been standing in strong sunshine for the
    last three weeks and Amanda, with her sharp eyes, had spotted
    the first little bud. She'd taken him by the arm, led him
    over to the plant and pointed.

    "Isn't this bougainvillea supposed to be red?"

    "It's not red?" he asked with a sense of foreboding.

    He wouldn't have known if she hadn't told him. Luca
    wasn't just color blind; he suffered from the most severe and
    rarest form of the malady: achromatopsia. He saw the world
    in black, white and shades of gray.

    Six people in the world, and only six, knew about his condition.
    Unfortunately, one of them was Amanda's no-good
    brother, Mateo, who owned a flower and shrub business, and
    whom Luca blamed for his current troubles.

    The truth of the matter was that Mateo Lima was a nasty
    son of a bitch, and there weren't many people in Carapicuiba,
    or the surrounding communities either, who were willing to
    buy flowers and shrubs from the likes of him.
    Nor were there many people willing to hire a guy who was
    color blind to care for their flowers.

    So there they were, Luca and Mateo, stuck with each other.
    The survival of Mateo's flower and shrub nursery depended
    upon Luca's work as a gardener. And Luca's continued
    employment depended on Mateo keeping his mouth shut
    about Luca's condition, which Mateo, the blackmailing
    bastard, had made clear he'd do only if he became Luca's
    exclusive supplier.

    It was remotely possible, of course, that Mateo had made
    an honest mistake about those supposedly blood-red bougainvilleas.
    But Luca didn't think so. The most likely possibility
    was that Mateo was trying to pull a fast one because
    he had no blood-red bougainvilleas in stock.
    The other possibility was that Mateo had been having a
    joke at Luca's expense. He found color blindness funny.

    Either way, Mateo had underestimated the consequences
    for both of them. If Juraci saw those bougainvilleas flowering
    in pale purple, she'd have a fit. And then she'd shoot her
    mouth off to all of her neighbors. Luca would wind up losing
    his customers; Mateo would be stuck with his flowers and
    shrubs, and both of them would soon be scratching to make
    a living. That was why the bougainvilleas had to go before
    they brought...

About the Author-
  • Leighton Gage is the author of five novels in the Mario Silva series: Blood of the Wicked, Buried Strangers, Dying Gasp, Every Bitter Thing, and A Vine in the Blood. He spends part of each year in Santana do Parnaiba, Brazil, and divides the rest of the year between Florida and the Netherlands. He is married with four daughters.

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    Soho Press
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Chief Inspector Mario Silva Series, Book 5
Leighton Gage
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