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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 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...

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.

Reviews-
  • Publishers Weekly, Starred Review "Silva, a tough, compassionate cop with an alcoholic wife and an unerring instinct for working the system, tackles this highly spiced case with his usual aplomb. Rising above Brazilian brutality, corruption, and bribery with uncommon wit and the help of his colorful, appealing colleagues, he scores a winning goal in an enormously complex kidnap payoff scheme."
  • Toronto Globe and Mail "Gage knows Brazil well and has a cast of characters so amusing and so skillfully constructed that this novel is irresistible."
  • Kirkus Reviews "A brisk, colorful police thriller with much interesting information about contemporary Brazil. As usual, the strong and disparate personalities of Silva's detectives add spice to their fifth case."
  • Examiner.com "This book, like all of the titles in Gage's Chief Inspector Mario Silva Investigations series, throws a spotlight on the society and politics of contemporary Brazil. A Vine in the Blood attests to that country's intense involvement with the game of soccer.... Gage effectively increases the suspense of his latest work by creating a variety of characters, each with a valid motive for the crime."
  • Crimespace "Whether it's characterization, plot or setting, A Vine in the Blood is possibly the best book in this series. If you have yet to sample it, fear not. This book stands on its own very well. My personal recommendation would be to read the entire series. Each book is a window into a fascinating country."
  • New York Journal of Books "Mr. Gage is a master of the procedural who paints with a fine brush, using the tools he needs to craft a fine novel--and no more."
  • Crime Scraps Review "Leighton Gage's skill is that he imparts a lot of information as an integral part of the exciting narrative, or the smart and frequently amusing dialogue between his characters. Everything flows along so smoothly that suddenly you have read 300 pages and are eagerly awaiting the next investigation. You can start with number five in the series as each of the stories is self contained, but if you do you will certainly want to go back and read the rest of this top quality crime fiction series."
  • Booklist "Silva himself is something of a homebody, sticking to his familiar Sao Paolo turf, but that doesn't stop Gage from conveying a strong sense of place and Brazilian culture.... an engaging and fast-paced mystery."
  • Deadly Pleasures Mystery Magazine "This is a fine series and one that readers would do well to seek out."
  • MysterEbook "Enthralling.... The plotting is amazing; the finale will leave the reader a little stunned but the motivation is so true that it all makes sense."
  • The Big Thrill "The series offers a tour of the hemisphere's largest and most populated country and a hint of its future.... a great stocking stuffer for the reader on your holiday list."
  • International Noir Fiction "When the final break comes, it's a perfectly believable insight rather than the strained coincidence that we sometimes see in crime fiction. All in all, the Silva series just gets better and better."
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Chief Inspector Mario Silva Series, Book 5
Leighton Gage
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