This is the sixth novel in the series referred to as the Chief Inspector Mario Silva Investigations, and a very welcome return it is. The book opens, shockingly, with a man cutting the throat of a young woman and kidnapping her infant child. Shortly followed by a suicide bombing outside the US consulate in Sao Paulo, Brazil, which is in turn followed by another suicide bombing in Buenos Aires, outside of the oldest Jewish synagogue in Argentina. All with the attendant high numbers of innocent victims including, in Buenos Aires, the Israeli ambassador to Argentina, his wife and two children.
A grisly beginning, to be sure. We quickly learn of additional targeted killings planned, in a book replete with murderous plots from start to finish, typical, one must believe, of the true climate of politics in parts of this country filled with great beauty, and even greater intrigue. Heading up the investigation is the brilliant and incorruptible Mario Silva and his team, once again including once again one of my favorites, charming Haraldo “Babyface” Goncalves [so called because although he is 34 he looks 22. The reader is quickly reminded of the corruption that pervades every possible level of many South American countries, from the cop on the street to the highest elected officials. As the investigation proceeds, everything the investigators thought they knew is called into question. It soon becomes apparent that there will be no lack of suspects, including killers with principles, and politicians with none.
As Inspector Silva says, “I’ve been in the service of a corrupt legal system for all of my working life. Another cop says “In case you guys never noticed, politics and favoritism is what Brasilia is all about.” And from another character, “In his world, the rich didn’t go to jail. Not in Brazil. Not even if they killed an unnamed, penniless priest, in the presence of a federal cop, as he had done.” As well, the author paints a chilling portrait of the overwhelming number of criminal activities rampant throughout the neighboring country of Paraguay.
As awful as is this portrait of these events, and the people who plan and carry them out, don’t think the book is a dark one. Almost surprisingly, I would not describe it as such. It is fascinating, well-written, fast-paced, and thoroughly enjoyable.