A VINE IN THE BLOOD by Leighton Gage
I’ve just finished Leighton Gage’s A VINE IN THE BLOOD which is a marvelous crime story which takes place in Brazil. Sometimes in stories told in locations with cultures with which I’m not familiar, I end up feeling disoriented—I have no sense of what should be familiar—and so I lose the immediate connection with the story, but there was no such feeling with A VINE IN THE BLOOD. Not being interested in spectator sports, I noticed the populace in Brazil loves futebol (known to Americans and Canadians as soccer) with about the same interest I have for American sports events. It’s awkward describing a story by what it is not, but both of these characteristics would presuppose my negative response to the story, but I loved it!
Another oddity: usually, I prefer to know nothing at all about a story I’m going to read, but I had heard rumours that Leighton Gage’s stories reflect societal problems in Brazil. Perhaps I’d been warned, but I sensed no overwhelming trumpeting of social injustice (we see that world is unjust, but it doesn’t take over the story).
Now for what the book is: Chief Inspector Mario Silva is an officer with the Brazilian Federal police and we watch him puzzle out the clues to the story. One of the great delights of this story is the way the characters interact; they talk and make jokes at each other’s expense, just as predictably as real people. By the middle of the book I was rooting for the detectives and laughing at their wisecracks. Another enjoyment was the irony with which these police rebutted various levels of corruption and the deft way they worked around the nonsense corruption causes.
The crime gets solved in an elegant, well-policed way, but there’s still a lot of evil under the surface; I am left yearning for these police officers to expand their target, to take on more of the crime which surrounds them. Leighton, I can’t wait; when will #6 be released?