By Leighton Gage
Soho Press, 2009
In what has been called the largest urban forest in the world, the Serra da Cantareira, a young man seeking a dog stumbles across what turns out to be an entire clandestine cemetery. The local police delegado, Yoshiro Tanaka leads the investigation, but the case has also drawn the attention of the federal police, and Chief Inspector Mario Silva, who assigns his team to it as well. In the midst of this, Silva’s maid has lost touch with her son, who was trying to enter the United States illegally. As Silva pursues his main investigation, he also gives some attention to the missing son, and finds his investigations unraveling strands of corruption, avarice, and murder that plumb the depths of human depravity.
Leighton Gage has written a story that captures the reader from the first and doesn’t let go. The Brazilian setting is well-depicted, with the isolation of the Serra da Cantreira within the urban environs of Sao Paulo, and the pricey condominiums cheek-by-jowl with the one-room shacks of the favelas. The venality of the local police and national politicians is contrasted with Silva’s federal agents, dedicated to solving the case. The case itself involves as pure a depiction of evil as any I’ve read lately, and the pace of the book drives the reader on to the finish. This book is highly recommended.