Suspects aren’t lacking. Among them, are a cabal of Argentineans, suspected of having spirited the lady away to put Tico off his game, the star’s gold-digging, top-model girlfriend, whom his mother dislikes and has been trying to get out of his life, his principal rival, who wants to play in the World Cup in Tico’s place, and the man whose leg Tico broke during a match, thereby destroying his career. In the end, Silva and his crew discover that the solution to the mystery is less complex - but entirely unexpected.
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Less than an hour after Juraci Santos was unceremoniously dumped into the back seat of her kidnappers’ getaway car, Luca Vaz crept through her front gate and poisoned her bougainvilleas.
The way he figured it, he didn’t have a choice. And it wasn’t his fault. It was the fault of that lying lowlife, Mateo Lima.
“You’re sure about the color of these bougainvilleas?”
Juraci had asked when he was planting them.
“I’m sure, Senhora,” he’d assured her. “Blood red, like you told me.”
“All right, Luca. But you’d better be right. Because, if they flower in any other color. . . .”
She left the threat unspecified. But a threat it was—and he knew it.
Three weeks later, the roof fell in: Luca learned that those new plants of hers were about to flower in a color his wife,
Amanda, had described as the palest purple I’ve ever seen on a bougainvillea. If Juraci Santos, a woman known to be as vindictive as she was distrustful, discovered the truth, he’d be in big trouble.
Luca’s advance notice of the situation stemmed from the fact that he’d swiped one of the cuttings and planted it to the right of his front door. Unlike the bougainvilleas along Juraci’s wall, it had been standing in strong sunshine for the last three weeks and Amanda, with her sharp eyes, had spotted the first little bud. She’d taken him by the arm, led him over to the plant and pointed.
“Isn’t this bougainvillea supposed to be red?”
“It’s not red?” he asked with a sense of foreboding.
He wouldn’t have known if she hadn’t told him. Luca wasn’t just color blind; he suffered from the most severe and rarest form of the malady: achromatopsia. He saw the world in black, white and shades of gray.
Six people in the world, and only six, knew about his condition.
Unfortunately, one of them was Amanda’s no-good brother, Mateo, who owned a flower and shrub business, and whom Luca blamed for his current troubles.
The truth of the matter was that Mateo Lima was a nasty son of a bitch, and there weren’t many people in Carapicuiba,
or the surrounding communities either, who were willing to buy flowers and shrubs from the likes of him.
Nor were there many people willing to hire a guy who was color blind to care for their flowers.
So there they were, Luca and Mateo, stuck with each other.
The survival of Mateo’s flower and shrub nursery depended upon Luca’s work as a gardener. And Luca’s continued employment depended on Mateo keeping his mouth shut about Luca’s condition, which Mateo, the blackmailing bastard, had made clear he’d do only if he became Luca’s exclusive supplier.
It was remotely possible, of course, that Mateo had made an honest mistake about those supposedly blood-red bougainvilleas.
But Luca didn’t think so. The most likely possibility was that Mateo was trying to pull a fast one because he had no blood-red bougainvilleas in stock.
The other possibility was that Mateo had been having a joke at Luca’s expense. He found color blindness funny.
Either way, Mateo had underestimated the consequences for both of them. If Juraci saw those bougainvilleas flowering in pale purple, she’d have a fit. And then she’d shoot her mouth off to all of her neighbors. Luca would wind up losing his customers; Mateo would be stuck with his flowers and shrubs, and both of them would soon be scratching to make a living. That was why the bougainvilleas had to go before they brought flowers into the world.
Killing bougainvilleas, as any gardener will tell you, is a tough proposition. The normal technique is to dig them out by the roots. Luca would have to be subtler than that. He’d have to make it appear they’d fallen victims to some mysterious blight.
After giving the problem some thought, he decided on his instrument of death: herbicide coupled with industrialstrength bleach. He mixed up the concoction in a four-liter jug, set his alarm clock for quarter to five in the morning, and by five-thirty on the day of the kidnapping he was creeping through Juraci’s gate. He missed encountering her abductors by about fifty-five minutes, a fact that undoubtedly saved his life.
He, like the kidnappers, had chosen his time with care.
One of her maids had mentioned that Juraci was a night owl,
and that she seldom retired before two or three in the morning.
But Luca always smelled freshly-brewed coffee when he arrived, which was usually around 7:00, sometimes as early as 6:45. That led him to believe that the maids were up and about by 6:30 at the latest.
His plan was a simple one, and he was convinced he’d be able to pull it off without a hitch. The only imponderable was that yappy little poodle of Juraci’s, the one she called Twiggy.
He prayed the dog would keep her mouth shut, because if the little bitch didn’t, she might wake up the big bitch, her mistress, and then Luca’s fat would be in the fire.
He’d brought a flashlight, but, as it turned out, he didn’t need it. The moonlight was bright enough to work by. With gloved and practiced fingers, Luca dug down to expose the roots of each plant, severed them with his grafting knife,
poured in a healthy dose of the poisonous liquid and packed the earth back into place. With any kind of luck at all, the heat of the sun would cause the sap to rise, thereby drawing the poison upward into the twigs and leaves.
At quarter past six, after a celebratory cigarette, Luca began his normal workday. He went, first, to the shed at the foot of the garden. From there, he took a plastic trash bag and started working his way up the slope toward the house.
Juraci’s slovenly guests were in the habit of leaving paper cups, paper plates, and gnawed-upon bones scattered about the lawn after every barbecue—and she gave a lot of barbecues.
It was one of his tasks to gather them up.
6:30 passed, then 6:40 without a single sign of life from the house; no yappy little Twiggy running around the garden pissing on the plants; no smell of coffee.
At 6:45, curiosity and a craving for a café com leite getting the better of him, Luca decided to investigate. Up to that point, he hadn’t been alarmed. But when he rounded the corner and caught sight of the kitchen, he stopped dead in his tracks.
The door had been smashed—not just forced open, but completely destroyed. Pieces of solid, varnished wood were everywhere, a few of them still hanging from the hinges.
Burglars, he thought. And then: Already gone . . . or maybe not. He started moving again, more cautiously this time. A rat in the kitchen reacted to the sound of his footsteps by scuttling out of the door to take refuge under a nearby hedge.
Luca had no fear of rats. He’d killed dozens in his time.
He quickened his pace. From somewhere beyond the dim opening, he could hear the buzzing of flies. When he reached the doorway, he stopped again, letting his eyes adjust to the light, getting his first glimpse of the situation inside.
The flies, hundreds of them, had been attracted by a pool of liquid on the white tile floor. They were over it, around it,
some were even in it, trapped, as if they’d landed on flypaper.
A few survivors waved their wings, making futile efforts to escape.
Luca, at first, saw the liquid as dark grey. But then, he caught a whiff of the steely smell, saw the two corpses from which it oozed to form a single pool, and realized it must be red.
The downpour menacing Brasilia for the past hour was finally making good on its threat. Raindrops splashed on the Director’s window panes. Mario Silva suppressed a sigh.
He’d left his umbrella at home. He’d get soaked on the way to the airport.
“Let me have a closer look at that,” Nelson Sampaio said.
He leaned over his desk to snatch the photo from his chief inspector’s hand. Then he put on his gold-rimmed reading glasses and squinted at the headline.
Artist’s Mother Abducted.
He could have read it without the glasses. The typeface was that big.
In the photograph, Juraci Santos looked terrified. Her face was dirty, her hair unkempt; her upper body, as much of it as could be seen in the shot, was clad in a dark green sweatshirt several sizes too small. She had been photographed holding up a late edition of that morning’s Cidado de São Paulo.
Sampaio tossed the photo onto a pile of newspapers, all with headlines echoing the one he’d been squinting at.
“Proof of life, my ass,” he said. “These days they can fake anything. Why diamonds?”
“Cash is too bulky,” Silva said. “A bank transfer could be traced. Diamonds have universal value. It’s a good choice.”
Sampaio took off his glasses and rubbed the indentations on the bridge of his nose. “How did those damned radio people get the news before we did?”
“I don’t know.”
“Where’s Arnaldo Nunes?”
“In São Paulo, visiting family.”
“Good! Saves us a plane ticket.” Sampaio, when he wasn’t flattering a superior, or planning the overthrow of an enemy,
kept a sharp eye on expenses. “Pry him loose from his bloody family. I need every available man, I need results fast. Timing is critical.”
For once, Sampaio was right. Timing was critical.
The felons who’d snatched the Artist’s mother could hardly have picked a worse time to do it.
The beginning of the FIFA World Cup was thirteen days away. The nation, as it did every four years, had gone football crazy. And, in the upcoming conflict, no player was more crucial to Brazil’s success than the Artist.
What Beethoven was to music, Rembrandt to painting,
Tico “The Artist” Santos was to the art of futebol. He was the new Pelé. Some alleged he was better than Pelé. With Tico in form, his team was expected to go on to glory. With Tico depressed and worried about the fate of his mother, Brazil ran a grave risk of suffering a humiliating defeat at the hands of the country’s most bitter rival—Argentina.
Even that wasn’t the worst of it. Brazil, the only country to have won the Cup five times, was hosting the series for the first time in more than sixty years.
Every important government official, from the President of the Republic on down, had acquired tickets to the games.
And every one of them had been looking forward to the grand finale, where they’d rub elbows, mid-field, in the great stadium of Maracanã, and watch Brazil crush the opposition.
Opposition that would, according to the bookmakers in London, most likely be wearing the blue and white of the Argentinean national team.
But now, the great elbow-rubbing fest had been thrown into jeopardy. A serious risk had arisen that Argentina might rub dirt into Brazilian faces. And, indignity of indignities,
that dirt might be Brazilian dirt.
The task of finding the Artist’s mother had fallen to the Brazilian Federal Police. If Juraci Santos wasn’t quickly—and safely—returned, there was no one more likely to be targeted by the witch hunt that would surely follow than the Director in charge of that organization.
“The Argentineans have a club in São Paulo,” he said, biting one of his nails. “That’s as good a place as any to start.”
Silva eyed him warily. “Start what?”
“Interviewing Argentineans, of course. It’s a question of cui bono. If Tico can’t do his stuff, who benefits? The Argentineans! That could be it right there! That could be the motive.”
Wariness crystallized into disbelief, but Silva was careful to keep his voice neutral.
“You think a cabal of Argentineans snatched the Artist’s mother?”
“Makes sense, doesn’t it?”
“Honestly, Director, I don’t think—”
“Call Nunes. I don’t want him sitting around on his ass waiting for you to get there. I want him over at that Argentinean club questioning suspects. Tell him that.”
Silva suppressed a sigh. “I’ll tell him, Director.”
Sampaio stabbed the photo with a forefinger. “Did this come by email?”
“We can trace emails, can’t we?”
“Not in this case.”
“Why the hell not?”
“They used a free, web-based account and logged in through an unsecured wireless link.”
“Whatever the fuck that means.” Sampaio’s language tended to get saltier when he was under pressure. “Have you booked your flight?”
Silva nodded and looked at his watch. “It leaves in fifty-five minutes.”
“Get a move on then.” Sampaio took another bite of nail.
“We’ll continue this conversation when I get there.”
Silva raised an eyebrow. “You’re coming to São Paulo?”
“Are you hard of hearing, Chief Inspector?”
The Director loved to throw his weight around.
Unfortunately for his subordinates, he generally threw it in the wrong direction. Allowing him to go to São Paulo would hinder, not help, the investigation. Silva acted immediately to defuse the threat.
“I’m sure Minister Pontes will be pleased with your personal involvement,” he said.
Antonio Pontes, the Minister of Justice, was the government’s Witch Hunter-in-Chief.
For a while, Sampaio didn’t reply.
Silva knew what he was up to. He was turning it over in his head: Go to São Paulo and assume all responsibility, or stay in Brasilia and blame Mario Silva and his team in case of failure?
For Sampaio, a political appointee and a political animal,
it really wasn’t much of a choice. He did exactly what Silva expected him to do.
“Damn,” he said, “I forgot about the corruption hearings.
I’ll have to stay here. I could be called upon to testify.”
There was not the least chance of Sampaio being called upon to testify. The congressional corruption hearings were dead in the water. The politicians charged with conducting them were stonewalling, some to protect their buddies, some to protect themselves.
But Silva nodded, as if what the Director said made perfect sense.
“Mind you,” Sampaio added, “You’ll be calling me with updates at least twice a day.”
“Of course,” Silva said.
He had no intention of doing any such thing.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This Brazilian mystery takes place just prior to the 1914 World Cup that is set to take place in Brazil. The Brazilian super star Tico, "The Artist", is expected to help Brazil run away with the win over their top rival, Argentina. But someone has kidnapped Tico's beloved mother and everyone is concerned that Tico won't be at his best with her missing. Chief Inspector Mario Silva is assigned this case, with instructions to get her back before the highly anticipated games. There are plenty of suspects depending on whether the kidnapping was to hinder Brazil's chances of winning, or if it was a revenge kidnapping by another star player, or if it was purely for money. Though this was a newer book from the CI Silva mysteries, I was immediately caught up with the characters. Silvia's boss was more of a hinderance that a help, and seemed only to be politically motivated in his actions. The excitement of the World Cup was very evident. Though I got engrossed in the characters and the mystery, the Brazilian location was only felt because of the country wide "football"/ soccer craze. I would read more in this series as I do like police procedurals, and this one was well done.
Read all five in the serie4s & couldn't wait for the next one! Entertainiung & suspenseful reading.
First Line: Less than an hour after Juraci Santos was unceremoniously dumped into the back seat of her kidnappers' getaway car, Luca Vaz crept through her front gate and poisoned her bougainvilleas.The kidnapping of this woman constitutes a national emergency. You see, it's the eve of the FIFA World Cup, and Brazil is the host country. Brazil is assured of a victory due to the skill of Tico "The Artist" Santos, and since the entire country is football (soccer) mad, the level of celebration will be beyond imagining. However... Juraci Santos is The Artist's mother, and her kidnapping insures that The Artist is out of the game.Since this is such a serious matter, Chief Inspector Mario Silva and his team are called upon to save the day (and the victory). There is no lack of suspects, and each one must be questioned carefully, doublechecking motives, opportunity, and alibis. Are the kidnappers supporters of arch rival Argentina's team? The Artist's gold-digging girlfriend whom his mother hated? His main rival in Brazil? The man whose career Tico Santos destroyed? Or someone completely different?I think I had a smile on my face the entire time I was reading this book. I love the camaraderie of Silva's team, how they work together and tease each other, and that was sorely missing in the last book of the series, Every Bitter Thing. (This camaraderie reminds me a bit of that enjoyed by Inspector Montalbano's team in Andrea Camilleri's excellent series.) Part and parcel of how this team works together is the skill with which Silva dangles just the right carrot in front of his burro-ish bureaucrat of a boss. The interaction of these characters is one of the things that makes this series so special.Investigating each of the suspects turns out to be a marvelous guided tour of life in present-day Brazil, from the high to the low. It's also where Gage neatly disguises his excellent bit of misdirection. Whether I like it or not, I sometimes think I have a bit of the Eye of Sauron in me as I read crime fiction. My "eye" passes over each character until it suddenly stops, staring intently at The One Who Did It. In A Vine in the Blood, my eye was hoodwinked, and I liked that very much.Whether it's characterization, plot or setting, A Vine in the Blood is possibly the best book in this series. If you have yet to sample it, fear not. This book stands on its own very well. My personal recommendation would be to read the entire series. Each book is a window into a fascinating country.
An enjoyable read!! Plenty of twists and turns to keep the reader guessing as each character becomes a possible suspect in a kidnapping.
A slow starter but once I got into the same rhythm as the author it was a great plot with more twists than an East Tennessee mountain highway.
I thoroughly enjoyed A VINE IN THE BLOOD. In the author's own words, "This one is less gory. I don¿t think I¿ll be spoiling anything if I tell you that there are only two murders in the whole book, and they both occur ¿off-screen¿ in the very beginning."If you are new to the work of Leighton Gage, it is also a title you can read out of sequence. There is not a lot in the book that is dependent on having read earlier titles.The author has a slightly quirky sense of humour which emerges sometimes in his character descriptions and notably in A VINE IN THE BLOOD in the method chosen in the delivery of the $5 million ransom for the soccer player's mother. In a world where conversation is dominated by the impending World Cup and the Brazil vs Argentina clash, the Brazilians, Silva's boss included, are convinced that no patriotic country man would damage Brazil's chances by kidnapping "The Artist" Tico's mother. Therefore the whole plot must be an Argentinian ruse.There are some serious social comments and glimpses of the state of things in Brazil too: where else does organised crime dominate politics to the extent that a judge might be forced to take refuge in his own courthouse, or an enormously popular illegal lottery has been a feature of the country for over a century?I also enjoyed the further development of the main characters: Inspector Mario Silva, his nephew Hector Costa, and the other members of his team.
This was a very good mystery/police investigation book - the fifth in the series about Chief Inspector Mario Silva. Set in Brazil, a star soccer (football)player's mother is kidnapped just before the World Cup. The story flows through the investigation nicely and has some good twists and turns in the plot. While the book was the fifth in the series, I was able to pick up the novel and read without having felt I missed something. Character definition was good, but I never felt I really knew any of the characters very deeply. For this type of novel, that's probably ok, but in comparison to some similar recent books, the character development was noticeably lighter in this book. That may be a function of being the fifth in the series where the character development is deeper in previous books. Overall, well worth the read. After reading this story, it makes me want to read the other books in the series. Reader received a free copy through Good Reads First Reads. This in no way affects my review or rating.
This will be the first time that my readers will have seen a police procedural reviewed however after reading A VINE IN THE BLOOD I rather doubt that it will be the last. Luckily it was a quick read, it took me seven hours from start to finish, as I wasn¿t able to put the book down until the rather surprising and satisfying conclusion.A VINE IN THE BLOOD has the reader right in the middle of the action from the very first page where the murder of two women was discovered and never gives you a chance to take a break. There is never a dull moment, never a time when the reader is slogging thru waiting to get to another `good¿ part. The entire book is just that good. The only problem I had with the book is a fault of my own in that I don¿t read or speak Portuguese and the book is set in Brazil. Because I couldn¿t pronounce the characters¿ names I had problems keeping them straight in the beginning. Once I got that squared away in my head it was all smooth sailing. I would recommend A VINE IN THE BLOOD to any readers who enjoy police procedurals and I would rate it a 4.8.**This book was given to me by the author in exchange for an honest review. No money has or will change hands.
This book I won via a LibraryThing Contest it¿s a series about Chief Inspector Mario Silva in this book the FIFA World Cup is about take place when Tico Santos¿s mother is kidnapped three weeks prior to the cup. It¿s up to Mario Silva to find her. There are many people that could be potential suspects. Some motives are to throw Tico off his game and insure he isn¿t up to his game. A gold digging future wife who his mother was investigating, a man whose career was destroyed by Tico. This book is definitely full of action and adventure leaving you wondering who had the most to gain by Ms. Santos being out of the picture. Definitely had you wondering up the end what happened and who had Tico¿s mother. A great book.
I found Leighton Gage's newest installment in his internationally known Inspector Silva series a great read, well crafted and smartly paced. With each book, Silva and company seem to get more interesting. A VINE IN THE BLOOD is one of those special novels you sit down with and before you realize it you're fifty pages along. Gage has that rare ability to excite and draw the reader in with supenseful action that is devoid of gratuitous violence. Engrossing characters (some we love to hate) appear in every chapter and the narrative adroitly rushes forward. One is compelled to keep reading to see what happens next. Gage's series is in the tradition of the classic police procedural. His Brazilian landscape, which he knows intimately, sparkles with local color and strange entanglements.The powerhouse, snowballing plot centers around a high-profile kidnapping. The mother of Brazil's top soccer star is snatched from her home in the dead of night, setting off a national hue and cry. Is it done for the ransom, or are the kidnappers trying to throw off the soccer star for the upcoming contest with Argentina? It's all carried off with panache and surprising plot twists. The ending has the inevitable meeting the unexpected. It's a really fine crime story that outstrips most film and TV police tales. Highly recommended.
The story moves quickly, has a dark humor, and very likeable characters.
This was the first of the Mario Silva series that I read. I enjoyed learning about South American countries, and their legal system. The plot was good, and the writing was better than in most mysteries: witty, amusing, smart. It's a good mystery and will keep the reader's interest throughout. The character of Mario Silva is well developed and easy to like.
I’ve just finished Leighton Gage’s A VINE IN THE BLOOD which is a marvelous crime story which takes place in Brazil. Sometimes in stories told in locations with cultures with which I’m not familiar, I end up feeling disoriented—I have no sense of what should be familiar—and so I lose the immediate connection with the story, but there was no such feeling with A VINE IN THE BLOOD. Not being interested in spectator sports, I noticed the populace in Brazil loves futebol (known to Americans and Canadians as soccer) with about the same interest I have for American sports events. It’s awkward describing a story by what it is not, but both of these characteristics would presuppose my negative response to the story, but I loved it! Another oddity: usually, I prefer to know nothing at all about a story I’m going to read, but I had heard rumours that Leighton Gage’s stories reflect societal problems in Brazil. Perhaps I’d been warned, but I sensed no overwhelming trumpeting of social injustice (we see that world is unjust, but it doesn’t take over the story). Now for what the book is: Chief Inspector Mario Silva is an officer with the Brazilian Federal police and we watch him puzzle out the clues to the story. One of the great delights of this story is the way the characters interact; they talk and make jokes at each other’s expense, just as predictably as real people. By the middle of the book I was rooting for the detectives and laughing at their wisecracks. Another enjoyment was the irony with which these police rebutted various levels of corruption and the deft way they worked around the nonsense corruption causes. The crime gets solved in an elegant, well-policed way, but there’s still a lot of evil under the surface; I am left yearning for these police officers to expand their target, to take on more of the crime which surrounds them. Leighton, I can’t wait; when will #6 be released?
It is two weeks away from the biggest game in Brazil, the FIFA World Cup against their bitter rival Argentina. The country is gearing up, bets are being placed, and the fans are putting all their hopes on Tico “The Artist” Santos. When the Artist’s mother Juraci is kidnapped, the country is riveted to the case hoping beyond all hope she is returned before the big game so the Artist is at his best. Chief Inspector Mario Silva is assigned the case along with his partner Arnaldo Nunes, together they quickly develop a long list of potential suspects. Juraci is not well liked and many would like to see the Artist off his game when the World Cup is played so the investigators need to work fast through the list of suspects and get the case solved in the two weeks before the game. The Artist’s fiancée Cintia—a fashion model—is at the top of the list. She is considered a gold digger by everyone around her, especially by her soon to be mother-in-law who incidentally hired a private investigator to dig up dirt on the model. Each of the suspects begins pointing to another suspect and has the Inspector and his partner going in circles following up each lead. When suspect’s bodies begin piling up, the case goes into overdrive in the fear Juraci won’t be alive when they find her. “A Vine in the Blood” is the fifth in the Chief Inspector Mario Silva series. With the book, Leighton Gage continues his deft writing to create a mystery that will have his reader riveted following each twist and turn and trying to figure out who the kidnapper is before they are revealed. Reviewed by Jodi Ann Hanson for Suspense Magazine
This book I won via a LibraryThing Contest it’s a series about Chief Inspector Mario Silva in this book the FIFA World Cup is about take place when Tico Santos’s mother is kidnapped three weeks prior to the cup. It’s up to Mario Silva to find her. There are many people that could be potential suspects. Some motives are to throw Tico off his game and insure he isn’t up to his game. A gold digging future wife who his mother was investigating, a man whose career was destroyed by Tico. This book is definitely full of action and adventure leaving you wondering who had the most to gain by Ms. Santos being out of the picture. Definitely had you wondering up the end what happened and who had Tico’s mother. A great book.
I discovered Leighton's Silva series in December and have read and enjoyed them very very much. They are superbly written, dark, mysterious, and most of all funny. I like that they have a social conscience without hitting the reader over the head with it each time. I look forward to the next in theseries!
Gives you a good peek into Sao Paulo and Brazil
This series has been good from the first, and each new book has been a step up from the previous. With Vine, the 5th in the series, Mr. Gage has hit full stride. He puts you in Brazil, you feel the heat, the humidity, you are in the middle of this wonderful investigation. I felt I was riding shotgun with Chief Inspector Silve and his squad. If you have not read any of the previous books in the series, it really doesn't matter. This is the perfect jumping on point. The characters are fully grounded, the plot is marvelous, and the suspense justs builds to a perfect ending that you don't see coming. It all works. This is a MUST READ for anyone who loves police procedurals.