Title: Dying Gasp
Author: Leighton Gage
Publisher: Soho Crime, 2010
Hardcover, 336 pages
Genre: Police Procedural, #3 Chief Inspector Mario Silva mystery
Source: contest prize
First Line: The bomb aboard the number nine tram claimed seventeen lives.
Normally a missing teenage girl doesn't raise many eyebrows, but when she's the granddaughter of a prominent politician, Chief Inspector Mario Silva's ambitious boss is practically jumping through hoops to earn Brownie points and keep the man happy.
The girl's disappearance is tied to kidnapping and the extremely lucrative international trade in underage girls, prostitution, and snuff films. Her trail leads Silva and his men to Manaus, deep in the Amazon basin in one of Brazil's poorest provinces. While the teenager fights against her fate, Silva and his team tries to find her before it's too late.
I am a mystery series junkie; I have no clue how many mystery series I follow, and the number would probably shock me. One thing I do know is that, since I began reading the Chief Inspector Mario Silva series, it has become one of my top ten favorites.
Gage's novels have introduced me to a part of the world about which I was ignorant, knowing more about its early history than what is going on there now. A strong sense of place is always present in my favorite series. Few writers capture this as well as Leighton Gage.
I am also a character-driven reader, and characters abound in these books, from Silva's bumbling boss, to Silva's crack team of investigators (especially Arnaldo whom I depend upon for much needed comic relief), to Silva himself-- a man who has no illusions about the corrupt system in which he works.
A strong point in Dying Gasp for me was the missing girl, Marta Malan. At first glance, she's a typical rich girl who believes she's just that much better than everyone else, but as she fights her captors in order to stay alive, my contempt for her underwent a sea change.
One of the characters from Buried Strangers appears in this third book in the series. An evil person with absolutely no concept of right or wrong, this character made my skin crawl, and her death seemed strangely anti-climactic in Dying Gasp. However, it did serve as a vivid contrast to young Marta's struggles.
I am going to be very sad when I've caught up with this series. What a drag, waiting for each new one to be published!