Saturday, January 15, 2011

Corruption is Unearthed in 'Buried Strangers'

Review: BURIED STRANGERS (Kindle Edition 2009)
Author: Leighton Gage

When an errant dog unwittingly discovers a mass unmarked burial site, Chief Inspector Mario Silva of the Brazilian Federal Police and his associates are called upon to help investigate. The clues include families buried together and missing families from poor sections of the city. Initial leads seem to point toward a cult, but his boss Nelson Sampaio discourages Silva from pursuing the case further in favor of gathering dirt on a political opponent. However, Silva ignores him and keeps looking into the matter on the sly.

Meanwhile, a local cop Yoshiro Tanaka pursues his own investigation with something a little less noble than seeking justice in mind, only to pay for it. Silva learns of this and sends Agente Arnaldo Nunes to follow up on where Tanaka went and see where it leads. Turns out to be pretty dangerous.

With the help of his nephew, Hector Costa, and the deceptively youthful-looking Heraldo "Babyface" Goncalves, Silva discovers that the burial site is only one of many and that something even worse than a cult is behind it. And Nunes ends up in terrible trouble. Silva and associates race with the clock to find him before the bad guys do their worst. (I won't tell you what, for fear of spoilers. I'll just say it involves something icky and medical and leave it at that.)

BURIED STRANGERS is an excellent work of fiction. It explores the depth of corruption among police and in other walks of life in Brazil (not that such things are limited to that country). The story was so gripping, it kept me up half the night, two nights in a row. The book is a genuine page-turner and thought-provoking.

Plus it's rare to find a book that not only has a well-constructed and fast-paced plot, but characters that are sympathetic and delineated with care. When one of the bad guys (a complete jerk) gets caught trying to escape, I actually felt bad for him. Now, pulling that off is no mean feat. It's a testament to Leighton Gage's ability to write believable characters.

I highly recommend this book.

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