All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

Dying Gasp – Leighton Gage

on December 2, 2010

I really dislike reading a series out of order. When I ordered this book in from my local library, I didn’t actually realise it was part of a series, I just requested it because it was set in South America and I needed novels set there for my 2010 Global Challenge. I was a few people down the list and when it finally was held for me, I had to go away straight after for 2wks so I finally got around to completing it today. It’s novel #3 in the Mario Silva series and I get the feeling that I really should’ve read at least one of the prior novels to really get a lot of the subtle undercurrents in this novel. My library doesn’t have any more of the novels but I did enjoy the crafting of this one so I am quite tempted to track them down.

The novel opens in the Netherlands, where a terrorist organisation has just bombed a tram and caught a postal truck as collateral damage, scattering mail everywhere. In an attempt to round up the undamaged mail and get it delivered to the good citizens, a collection of dvd’s mailed singularly in packages are found. One diligent postal worker takes one home to view (they have no dvd player where he works, everyone seems rather stuck back in VHS land and actually even Beta video players are mentioned and I haven’t seen one of them kicking around since about 1993) to see if he can perhaps identify where it came from/where it was going. He will probably come to regret that decision for the rest of his life as what you see can never be unseen. It’s a genuine snuff video and the European policing takes them right back to Brazil and Mario Silva who is currently slumming it investigating the disappearance of a 15yo girl who is the granddaughter of a prominent man, Deputado Roberto Malan, who helps decide on the budget. He will agree to look favourably on their budget proposal if Silva and Co track down his granddaughter who has run off with her lesbian lover (again) which has the potential to cause some embarrassment in a wealthy and oppressively conservative society. If society catches wind of the girl running away they may start to question why she has run away and scrutiny will be placed upon the house of the Deputado. In a place where wealthy old families call the shots and rule towns and cities, power is important and knowledge can be power.

In the Netherlands, the diligent police have tracked down some distributors of the snuff dvd’s and they start singing like canaries. It becomes clear that the dvd’s are originating in Brazil and when Silva views the dvd he is stunned. The girl in the snuff film is Marta Malan’s girlfriend and fellow runaway. They have been picked up and tricked into thinking that their ‘rescuers’ had jobs for them when really all that was intended for them was prostitution. Marta is young enough (and still a virgin as far as men are concerned) to be of interest but Andrea is older. And not a virgin. So she’s sold on by the pimp and meets her end in the snuff video. It isn’t long until Silva realises that an old foe who escaped him last time is connected and this time he’s determined that she won’t get away.

This  is my first real foray into South American crime fiction. It’s not the first to tackle snuff films and this book doesn’t really focus so much on the victims individually, rather profiling a whole town, so poor that those willing to do anything for a bit of cash are easily found. Girls as young as 10 are being prostituted blatantly under the eyes of the local police force (and in face some of the local police force may be the brothel’s best customers) and hardened criminals can be found in any corner of the slums who are willing to slit a throat, chop off a head with an ax or strangle a prostitute all for a bit of money. The Brazil painted in this novel is not a pleasant one – it’s gritty, bleak, poor and riddled with corruption and crime. The underage prostitution in particular was shocking, the way it was conducted so openly and matter-of-factly and the high demand for it.

Mario Silva is a interesting one. In this novel we learn that he and his wife had one child who they lost to leukemia at age 8 and that his wife Irene drinks heavily, until she is comatose most nights. But despite this pretty personal and important information, this book doesn’t really tell me much else about Silva, other than he is extremely good at his job and smart in the way of most cop protagonists in that they avoid bullets, sniff out set ups, take down baddies without a blink and still find the time to be ice cool and/or witty. I don’t particularly know what sort of man he is at his core: what he likes, what he doesn’t like (apart from murderers, rapists and pedophiles, but that’s generally a given in these novels) and I’d really like the opportunity to learn more. I enjoyed his relationships with his colleagues, although very little was devoted to his personal life I got the feeling that he cared very much for his wife but not that he was particularly pained by her coping mechanism.

In a rather strange paradox what I would’ve usually disliked about a novel like this (the lack of personal details, etc) I enjoyed in this novel. The story itself, although disturbing and sickening, was low in the details so that you got the severity and understood the sickness but you weren’t bogged down by gratuitous descriptions and needless exploitation. Despite the subtleness and often understated tone of writing, there was a really ballsy part towards the end of a story that drew my admiration. It’s a brave move to devote so much time to a character and then sever that.

I think I’d have enjoyed this novel even more if I read the 2 previous. There’s a 4th novel also now and I’m adding all of them to my ‘to be purchased’ list.


Book #103 of 2010

This novel counts towards my 2010 Global Challenge!

The Medium Challenge
Read two novels from each of these continents in the course of 2010:
Africa: #1: A Change In Altitude, by Anita Shreve. Set in Kenya. #2 Tea Time For The Traditionally Built,by Alexander McCall Smith. Set in Botswana.
Asia: #1: The Blood of Flowers, by Anita Amirrezvani. Set in Persia/Iran. #2 February Flowers, by Fan Wu. Set in China.
Australasia: #1: Vodka Doesn’t Freeze, by Leah Giarratano. Set in Sydney, Australia. #2 The Denniston Rose, by Jenny Pattrick. Set in Denniston, New Zealand.
Europe: #1: Cold Granite, by Stuart MacBride. Set in Aberdeen, Scotland. #2 Silent in the Sanctuary, by Deanna Raybourn. Set in England.
North America (incl Central America): #1 Cat’s Eye, by Margaret Atwood. Set in Toronto, Canada.
South America: #1 Dying Gasp, by Leighon Gage. Set in Brazil.
Try to find novels from twelve different countries or states.

Two novels left to complete! One in North America, one in South America.


** If anyone has a Kindle and would like to d/l the first novel of the Mario Silva books, Blood Of The Wicked it is currently free from Amazon. Click here to check it out. If you’re like me and that page isn’t available to you because of where you live, the paid version is currently $2.99. Thanks to Leighton Gage himself for letting me know about this! **

2 responses to “Dying Gasp – Leighton Gage

  1. The cover is quite haunting and the subject matter sounds incredibly tough — but I think it’s one that I’d be intrigued to read.

  2. […] Chief Inspector Mario Silva series. Set in Brazil, I read the third novel in this series, Dying Gasp for the South American component of the 2010 Global Challenge last year. So it’s kind of […]

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