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By Michael Haskins

Leighton Gage’s fourth Chief Inspector Mario Silva thriller, Every Bitter Thing, is a fine companion to his three other books in the series. Gage fills the pages with murder and mayhem as well as a plane full of suspects and corrupt Brazilian politics and police.

Silva and his small team of dedicated federal investigators’ frustrations and triumphs turn this book into a page-turner as the agents track down leads, discover more bodies and deal with political kibitzing.

The son of the foreign minister of Venezuela is murdered in Brasilia. Silva becomes involved in what would normally be a non-federal case because of the victim’s politically connected father. Silva and his work-weary team soon discover similar murders with the same MO but are pressured by higher ups to find the murderer of the diplomat’s son and close the case, similarities or not to other murders.

The authorities are only concerned about solving the diplomat’s son’s murder, while Silva and his team search for a possible serial killer. Almost all the victims seem to have two things in common, the way they died – a bullet in the stomach and then a brutal beating – and being passengers on the same flight from Miami.

In search for the clues, the team is led to a city jail and the brutal rape and murder in the jail of a teenage plane passenger; an elite Brazilian army ex-special forces member’s name keeps coming up, and the surviving passengers from the airline; all possible suspects or the next victim.

Running against a time schedule politicians have given him, Silva and his team eliminate suspects while discovering other suspects and come to a surprising conclusion at the end.

Gage, who is married to a Brazilian, has a home Santana do Parnaiba, Brazil, and writes with authority about the federal police.

“I base Silva on two Brazilian cops, but they are not federal police,” he said. “I made Silva a federal officer so my books can happen anywhere in Brazil.”

Gage likens it to the FBI’s authority in the United States, Federal Brazilian police have authority to investigate anywhere in Brazil.

All of Gage’s books offer a look inside Brazil’s political, economic and social structures. He tells a story that exposes corruption and praises those within the government and police force that try to follow the law.

While each of Gage’s books tells a tale of corruption and death in Brazil, he also shows the courage and hope of the Brazilian people that want to see the country progress and prosper. It is often a sad tale but through his characters, Gage shows there is hope and successes. The series offers a tour of the hemisphere’s largest and most populated country and a hint of its future.

Gage said he always expected the Chief Inspector Mario Silva character to become a series.

“Brazil is such a large and diverse country that there is no shortage of ideas,” he said. “Every day I read the paper and find something that I want to work into Silva’s future investigations.”

Gage did not want to create a character that would only appeal to Brazilian readers.

“Crime is universal,” he said. “Silva’s cases could happen anywhere, Brazil, the United States, anywhere in Latin America and Europe.”

Every Bitter Thing, from Soho Crime, becomes available in December and makes a great stocking stuffer for the reader on your holiday list.

Michael Haskins
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