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Uriah Robinson (UK)

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Buried Strangers (A Novel of the Brazilian Federal Police Book 2)
Buried Strangers (A Novel of the Brazilian Federal Police Book 2)
Price: £3.94

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars SUPERB BRAZILIAN CRIME SERIES, 22 Dec. 2010
Now I have finished reading Buried Strangers the second in the Chief Inspector Mario Silva Investigation series.

Dozens of bodies, including children, are found buried in family groups in the Serra da Cantareira, the world's largest urban forest, in Sao Paulo. Mario Silva of the Federal Police and his team begin an investigation despite the disinterest of the director Nelson Sampaio, who is more intent on his own political advancement than dealing with Brazil's massive crime problem.

Local cop Delegado Yoshiro Tanaka is instructed to look for missing families in his area but conducts his own enquiry into a family from the favelas, who are supposed to have moved to a new job, but whose furniture has mysteriously appeared for sale in a local store. Tanaka's unofficial investigation proves to a dangerous enterprise and puts more lives at risk. Meanwhile pathologist Gilda Caropreso has her own theory as to the motive for the killings based on the forensic evidence, a theory she shares with Hector. When Mario Silva is asked by his wife to help their cleaner, whose son has been missing for two months after visiting a travel agency that offers to get illegal immigrants into the USA, he sends in Arnaldo to do some tricky undercover work.

This was another entertaining police procedural thriller in which we follow the participant's actions, both police and villains, as the different strands of the investigation proceed to a climax. What makes the novel so good, and I enjoyed it even more than Blood of the Wicked, was the matter of fact easy to read writing style and the larger than life Brazilian setting; crime, corruption, murder, traffic jams, and desperate poverty are all just that bit nastier in Sao Paulo.

Leighton Gage is also very good at creating some memorable supporting characters to his main cast.
The grotesquely 'loud' American FBI legal attache Grant Unger, the 'danger to women' Heraldo 'Babyface' Goncalves and the incredibly boring criminal profiler Dr Godofredo Boceta are examples of the sharply drawn characterizations that make this book a bit special. Sometimes you think that the larger than life venal characters and plot are are a bit over the top but then you think, wait a minute this is Brazil after all.

This is very definitely a police procedural thriller, and not a mystery, as the reader usually knows more than the police as the plot moves along. Buried Strangers is a page turner because you want to find out what happens next and whether Mario Silva, Hector, and Arnaldo deal with the villains. There is of course the extra bonus that the reader gets a lot of information about Brazil and the country's dysfunctional multicultural society.
Buried Strangers also fulfills another one of my criteria for good crime fiction [ educating, entertaining, good characterization, and plot] in that I am interested in what happens to the characters in the future, and whether the relationship between Hector and attractive pathologist Gilda Caropreso will become even closer.

I am definitely looking forward to the next book in the series Dying Gasp which should be available in January 2010.

Blood of the Wicked (A Novel of the Brazilian Federal Police Book 1)
Blood of the Wicked (A Novel of the Brazilian Federal Police Book 1)
Price: £3.72

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars BRAZILIAN THRILLER, 9 Nov. 2010
Dom Felipe Antunes, the Bishop of Presidente Vargas, comes to the remote Brazilian town of Cascatas do Pontal to consecrate a new church and is assassinated. When the Pope personally telephones Brazil's president about this outrage Mario Silva, Chief Inspector for Criminal Matters of the Federal Police of Brazil is sent by Nelson Sampaio, the Director of Brazil's Federal Police, to investigate.
Silva assisted by his nephew Hecto Costa, also a Federal cop, and the experienced Agente Arnaldo Nunes discovers that he must also deal with other murders.

'You mentioned Aurelio Azevedo. he was my friend, Chief Inspector. They nailed him to a tree. They shot his wife, Teresa. They even killed Paulo and Marcella, their two kids.'

Silva and his small team are faced with an uncooperative state police, corrupt judges, ruthless rich landowners, the Landless Worker's League and a divided Church as he attempts stop the escalating violence. There are also criminal elements preying on street kids and priests involved in 'liberation theology' to add to his problems.
Silva, whose own back story hides some dark secrets, has to face the harsh truth about justice in Brazil and the brutality goes on to its strangely satisfying climax.

'There is no peace, saith the Lord, unto the wicked'. Isaiah 48:22

Wicked: evil or morally wrong
Wicked: [informal] excellent or wonderful
Oxford English Dictionary

Leighton Gage, whose wife is Brazilian and spends part of each year in Santana do Parnaiba, has written a fast paced exciting political thriller. It is hard to believe that Blood of the Wicked is Leighton's first crime fiction book because it has all the smoothness of a Brazilian samba and is so well researched.

Mario Silva, the main protagonist, is a rarity among Brazil's underpaid cops who sometimes moonlight as bank robbers, he is honest. But even Mario as we learn in the novel has to accept the limitations of Brazilian justice and has taken the law into his own hands on occasions. Middle class, trained by the FBI at Quantico, and with a social conscience Silva has to be pragmatic in a society where the rich have vast wealth, the poor have very little, and stopping at a red traffic light at night can mean disaster.

I have always thought crime fiction a wonderful educational tool and Blood of the Wicked is packed full of information about a country about which I knew relatively little. Thanks to Leighton Gage I now know a lot more about this very rich country that just happens to have a lot of very poor people living in it.

This is a book with a lot of terrible violence and the excellent writing makes the action so vivid that one can smell the fear, the blood and the cigar smoke in the air.
I was left breathless by Blood of the Wicked and I am eagerly anticipating the next Mario Silva investigation Buried Strangers which will be published in January 2009.

ARSENIC LABYRINTH, THE (Lake District Mysteries)
ARSENIC LABYRINTH, THE (Lake District Mysteries)
by Martin Edwards
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

Guy Koenig, a drifter, who lives on his wits and his ability to con money out of vulnerable women has returned to Coniston in the Lake District. He takes lodgings with Sarah, a sad middle aged woman with a run down guest house, and a secret of her own.
It is ten years since Emma Bestwick has walked out of her cottage and never been seen again, and local journalist Tony Di Venuto writes an article on the anniversary of her disappearance. Guy reads the article and for his own reasons decides to anonymously inform Di Venuto that firstly Emma will not return, and then later where her body can be found.
DCI Hannah Scarlett, head of the Cold Case Review Team, is instructed by her public relations conscious superior ACC Lauren Self to re-open the investigation.
While Hannah begins to question those connected with Emma's past, her friend historian Daniel Kind, son of her old boss Ben, is researching details of John Ruskin's time in the Lakes. Daniel's relationship with his glamourous blonde partner Miranda has become strained, because she feels isolated in the Lake District which she now considers a backwater.

How did Emma come into money before she disappeared? Why did Guy meet Emma near the Arsenic Labyrinth, and is this old mine involved in an older mystery? Why is Emma estranged from her sister Karen Erskine?

This is the third book in the Lake District series by Martin Edwards, that features DCI Hannah Scarlett, and historian Daniel Kind.
It is a classic whodunit, within a modern rural setting, and is just the sort of book that first drew me into crime fiction
The plot is complex, and early on I drew a simple little diagram to show the relationships between the characters, some of which proved merely skillful red herrings. The excellent plot involves slowly uncovering the personal histories of numerous suspects, and their relevance to past and present crimes.
This is top quality crime writing which beautifully evokes the atmosphere of the Lakes, and importantly the sharply defined characters have the type of credible interrelationships that develop in small communities.
The chemistry between Hannah and Daniel adds yet another level of tension to the story, and hopefully this will be further explored in the next book in the series The Serpent Pool due out soon.
This was such a gripping and fascinating read that, until I reached the end, I did not realise it was over 400 pages in length.
I will definitely be on the look out for more books by Martin Edwards.

Blood of the Wicked: A Chief Inspector Mario Silva Investigation
Blood of the Wicked: A Chief Inspector Mario Silva Investigation
by Leighton D. Gage
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brazilian Thriller, 26 Sept. 2008
Blood of the Wicked is an exciting police procedural thriller in an exotic and dangerous setting.
Chief Inspector Mario Silva and his team of detectives investigate the death of a bishop and come face to face with the myriad of social problems in Brazil. Corruption, landless peasants, street urchins and the huge gulf between the rich and the masses of the poor make police work in Brazil an adventure.
I can highly recommend the fast action, interesting characters and educational material in this book.

Predator (Scarpetta Novels)
Predator (Scarpetta Novels)
by Patricia Cornwell
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Sadly lost the plot, 3 May 2006
I used back around the time of "Cruel and Unsual" rush down to the bookshop and buy Cornwell's latest in hardback. Now I only buy the discounted paperbacks usually to see if she has recaptured her touch.

Unfortunately Predator is another in her growing line of poor efforts.

Patricia Cornwell has forgotten how to plot a novel and is clearly fascinated by further characterisation of Scarpetta's entourage.

This would be fine if at least one of the characters was likeable in any way. But Kay has shrunk into the background while Marino has become even more bitter and twisted. I never believe in Benton he is just the handsome escort of Kay, and when I reviewed one of the earlier books I called Lucy the most annoying character in modern crime fiction.

The plot of Predator seems to be a mish mash of past patterns and plots from her old books. These were mixed together with some mumbo jumbo psychiatric nonsense, and the usual forensic gore. Where the forensics were a relevant part of the plot in her early books now they are just there to shock, and fill the pages. It was very easy to pick the murderer if one had read Scarpetta's previous adventures.

Frankly as for Lucy owning an academy of forensic medicine I would not let her take charge of the search for my lost cat.

Never the less I will probably buy Cornwell's next novel just to see if Benton, a forensic psychologist, finally realises that in Lucy and Marino he has a couple of potential patients with more problems than the murderers he studies.

More plot, more Kay Scarpetta, more Italian food, some fresh ideas and less of Marino's hangups and Lucy's unsatisfactory sex life, please.

Every Secret Thing
Every Secret Thing
by Laura Lippman
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A real page turner, 21 Nov. 2003
This review is from: Every Secret Thing (Paperback)
a baby goes missing and two 11 year old girls serve time and then are released after 7 years. British readers will spot a similarity with a notorious UK case, but Laura Lippmann has created a gripping novel full of interesting characters. Cause, effect , responsibility the innermost feelings of all the characters are mixed into a blend which keeps you turning the pages.
When babies start to go misssing after the girls release you really start to wonder how the book will finish. There are some nice deft surprises and this is one crime novel that ties up all the loose ends.

October Men: Reggie Jackson, George Steinbrenner, Billy Martin, and the Yankees' Miraculous Finish in 1978
October Men: Reggie Jackson, George Steinbrenner, Billy Martin, and the Yankees' Miraculous Finish in 1978
by Roger Kahn
Edition: Hardcover

4.0 out of 5 stars A different world, 4 Jun. 2003
Roger Kahn's earlier books The Era, New York Baseball 1947-1957, and the definitive Boys of Summer about the legendary Brooklyn Dodgers set a standard that would be hard to match. This book certainly does not have the magic of the earlier books but this is not the writer' fault. He does a good job of relating the bad tempered dealings of a good but not great baseball team. We learn that despite the vast egos and ludicrous behaviour of the three main protagonists the Yankees produce a great fightback and earn a one game playoff. I would have like more baseball and less tales of bitchiness.
Perhaps the events are too close to us but the antics of Billy Martin, Steinbrenner's treatment of his managers and Reggie's ego are a far cry from the dignified behaviour of Jackie Robinson and Pee Wee Reese.

Aftermath (The Inspector Banks Series)
Aftermath (The Inspector Banks Series)
by Peter Robinson
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.19

11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Robinson gets better and better, 13 May 2003
Peter Robinson's Inspector Banks series goes from strength to strength. In Aftermath he tries something different and pulls it off superbly. In the first few pages we know or think we know what has happened, a serial killer's murder spree has been ended and Banks is tidying up the loose ends. His former lover Annie Cabot is brought in to investigate allegations of undue violence against one of the Police Officers, who discovered the serial killer's secrets in the basement of a surbuban house. Of course with Peter Robinson you get plot twists, interesting characters a blend of plotlines and a great police procedural. Buy it and enjoy.

A Grave Talent
A Grave Talent
by Laurie R. King
Edition: Paperback

5 of 14 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Grave lack of Talent, 13 May 2003
This review is from: A Grave Talent (Paperback)
I read this book because the author had won the Edgar for best first crime novel, and it had quotes by Conan Doyle and Henry David Thoreau before the first chapter. A big mistake, Laurie King is not that intelligent, or perhaps reading George Pelecanos, Michael Connelly, Peter Robinson, and Henning Mankell spoils you for lesser lights. This book seems to have been written by numbers, lets throw in a child serial killer, a talented artist with a fragile personality, a world weary divorced cop, yes another world weary divorced cop. But wait a minute said our author there are not enough cliches here so we will set part of the book in a reclusive California commune lorded over by a kindly egomaniac millionaire and have as the leading character a lesbian detective with a understanding psychotherapist lover. Throw in a several pages of art reviews and a ton of psychological mumbo jumbo and we don't need a believable plot. Even for California the plot is ludicrous, the endnotes state "there is a coldly calculating tortuous mind at work", well unfortunately it wasn't writing the plot.

The Cutting Room
The Cutting Room
by Louise Welsh
Edition: Paperback

5 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Nice Read Nasty Hero, 13 Dec. 2002
This review is from: The Cutting Room (Paperback)
This an excellent story beautifully written in an easy to read style. The characters leap out of the book and it is a real page turner. But the book was spoilt for me by one of Rilke's sexual escapades described in harsh detail. I just thought it was not necessary for the plot. I suppose if a book is about a gay auctioneer searching for information about a collector of pornographic photographs one should be prepared for anything.

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