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Dying Gasp: A Chief Inspector Mario Silva…

Dying Gasp: A Chief Inspector Mario Silva Investigation (edition 2010)

by Leighton Gage

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547218,071 (4.04)5
Title:Dying Gasp: A Chief Inspector Mario Silva Investigation
Authors:Leighton Gage
Info:Soho Crime (2010), Hardcover, 336 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:Brazil, Amazonia, sex trafficking, prostitution, snuff films, crime fiction

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Dying Gasp by Leighton Gage



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As my personal tribute to Leighton Gage following his recent death I charged up my neglected eReader and snuggled near the heater on a miserable winter’s day with DYING GASP, the third instalment of the series. I barely moved a muscle over the next few hours as I devoured the deeply harrowing story about the string of bad luck, poor parenting, corruption and depravity that combine to ensure a young girl goes missing and stays that way. Gage had a way of making his readers desperate to find out what would happen next while at the same nearly being overcome with a desire to obliterate the words from the page. As if to do so could prevent the sadness they depict (and the real-life facts which always inspired Gage’s stories) from ever having existed.

When asked to look into the disappearance of the granddaughter of a local bigwig Mario Silva is reluctant because all indications are that she’s probably a runaway. But he can’t afford to neglect the wishes of the powerful politician and so he starts the normal processes. When a stroke of luck on another continent ends up offering a link to a truly hideous crime…and a vicious criminal who Silva has encountered before…the investigation gets very serious.

The story that follows is of the grimmest kind. Human life isn’t valued highly by most of the people portrayed and those same people use whatever power they can command within their respective spheres of influence to abuse and demean anyone they can find. But amidst this anger-inducing corruption and depravity stride Mario Silva and his fellow investigators Arnaldo and Hector (who is also Silva’s nephew). They’re not above breaking some rules themselves but at least when they do it their motivation is not self-interest. There is a real sense that they have to use some of the same tactics as the corrupt people they’re up against from both sides of the law to even have a chance of levelling the playing field.

As always, the location leaps off the page and demands attention. There’s the physicality of course, the heat and humidity especially, but there’s also the complex society which defies being neatly labelled. Without judging or preaching or making excuses Gage depicts the full gamut of human awfulness from the truly evil to the opportunistically so to those forced that way by circumstance. There’s not a nice, linear thread indicating where a better outcome might have been reached if only one element had been a little different: there are faults a-plenty and some of them stretch back decades.

Although it is violent and very, very sad the book manages to stop short of complete bleakness through its inclusion of a few brave souls who offer hope (bless them) and some well-placed humorous moments. The dialogue between Silva and his old friend Arnaldo is a particular treat. I also think the fact that the investigation is solved largely due to perseverance and a good dose of dumb luck helps to give the book some lighter tones. There’s no super-human detective with unnatural powers of observation or confession-inducement here…just some guys who are clever enough to act when they realise someone’s made a mistake. I have my suspicions that most real crimes are solved this way too.

The book is not for the feint-hearted: the violence is confronting. But it is not gratuitous and it is not dwelt upon. And if you can cope with it then the book is a rewarding read, unlikely to leave many readers with any sort of neutral feeling about the events it depicts. DYING GASP is in the tradition of great crime fiction which tells a ripping yarn while exposing a community’s underbelly in an all-too-believable way.

I am saddened at the death of Leighton Gage but I take some small comfort from the fact he lived long enough to publish a total of seven novels set in his adopted Brazil (with a rumoured eight novel to be published posthumously next year). If this one and its two predecessors are representative I still have some wonderful reading experiences ahead.
  bsquaredinoz | Aug 16, 2013 |
Third of a 3 book series, first I've read. Brazil. Will read the series !CI Mario Silva, Fed police, Brasilia. Goes to Manaus to investigate snuff films, murders, rapes, prostitution, child exploitation, and kidnapping The kidnap vicim is a tough 15 year old daughter of a politician who resists and fights, and is killed. No heroic last minute rescues here. ( )
  maneekuhi | Mar 5, 2012 |
This is the third book in the series, a captivating look at the child-prostitution trafficking in Brazil. The author was kind enough to offer me both this book and the second one and I am very thankful. I truly enjoyed it.
The writing was as concise as the first one, but the story was even more thought out, the complex plot lines merging and weaving together in an almost seamless fashion. It was fast paced without being manic, and I for one, never found myself bored or confused.
The characters are the best part of these two books. The main character Mario Silva, is a quirky mix of charisma, sarcasm and intelligence, and the supporting detectives, or agents, provide plenty of comic relief in a book that could easily have become too depressing for the common reader. The villain, whose identity I will not reveal because I don’t want to ruin it for anyone, is fantastic. I highly enjoyed following her/his (if I say the genre, it’s too easy) depraved plots.
What I enjoy most in these books is the clarity in the writing. There is no attempt to fool the reader, only to tell a story well. That to me, is refreshing. ( )
  valca85 | May 24, 2011 |
Now, I "knew" which order to read these books in, but I've read this one out of order. The upside of doing that is, that, although I thought perhaps I'd forgotten some details from the earlier book THE BLOOD OF THE WICKED, the novel really works quite well as a standalone.

DYING GASP does not paint a pleasant picture of Brazil and particularly of Sao Paolo where "real power was in the hands of feudal families, and it had been that way for four hundred years". And in the city of Manaus in the South is one where the police, the administration, and the criminals are hand in glove, deep in corruption.
Finding out what has happened to Marta Malan, a 15 year old who ran away from home, is not going to be easy. Mario Silva's boss Sampaio is under pressure from Deputado Roberto Malan to find his grand-daughter. And Malan has clout: he is the head of the Appropriations Committee in the Chamber of Deputies, and can affect the federal police budget. Normally hunting for a missing teenager would not be a job for the federal police, and she has been missing for more than two months.

Inspector Mario Silva, his nephew Hector, and Agente Arnaldo Nunes are tough customers, federal police, not affected by local politics, but even so orders are relayed from the federal authorities to the local police to ensure utmost cooperation.

I found this a real "page turner". There are some truly horrifyingly corrupt characters, and at the same time we learn much more about Mario Silva and his family.The story keeps the reader in its grip, right to the end. ( )
  smik | Mar 1, 2011 |
First Line: The bomb aboard the number nine tram claimed seventeen lives.

Normally a missing teenage girl doesn't raise many eyebrows, but when she's the granddaughter of a prominent politician, Chief Inspector Mario Silva's ambitious boss is practically jumping through hoops to earn Brownie points and keep the man happy.

The girl's disappearance is tied to kidnapping and the extremely lucrative international trade in underage girls, prostitution, and snuff films. Her trail leads Silva and his men to Manaus, deep in the Amazon basin in one of Brazil's poorest provinces. While the teenager fights against her fate, Silva and his team tries to find her before it's too late.

I am a mystery series junkie; I have no clue how many mystery series I follow, and the number would probably shock me. One thing I do know is that, since I began reading the Chief Inspector Mario Silva series, it has become one of my top ten favorites.

Gage's novels have introduced me to a part of the world about which I was ignorant, knowing more about its early history than what is going on there now. A strong sense of place is always present in my favorite series. Few writers capture this as well as Leighton Gage.

I am also a character-driven reader, and characters abound in these books, from Silva's bumbling boss, to Silva's crack team of investigators (especially Arnaldo whom I depend upon for much needed comic relief), to Silva himself-- a man who has no illusions about the corrupt system in which he works.

A strong point in Dying Gasp for me was the missing girl, Marta Malan. At first glance, she's a typical rich girl who believes she's just that much better than everyone else, but as she fights her captors in order to stay alive, my contempt for her underwent a sea change.

One of the characters from Buried Strangers appears in this third book in the series. An evil person with absolutely no concept of right or wrong, this character made my skin crawl, and her death seemed strangely anti-climactic in Dying Gasp. However, it did serve as a vivid contrast to young Marta's struggles.

I am going to be very sad when I've caught up with this series. What a drag, waiting for each new one to be published! ( )
  cathyskye | Dec 26, 2010 |
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The granddaughter of a prominent politician is missing. Silva and his team find her in Manaus, a jungle hellhole on the Amazon where an evil female doctor is making gory snuff films. Silva must overcome his own department's indifference and the corrupt local cops before he can obtain a semblance of justice for the victims.… (more)

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