A terrorist bomb aboard a tram in Amsterdam shatters a nearby postal truck scattering mail all over the cobblestones. Postal Inspector Marnix Gans tries to identify the recipients of some DVD's whose addresses have been scorched off by playing them on his home DVD player. Fourteen minutes into the first DVD he vomits up his chopped cabbage, smoked sausage and Oranjeboom beer.
When Dutch police investigate the Amsterdam end of the DVD distribution operation they tape a phone call from a Brazilian woman, who is obviously the supplier of these disgusting items.
Meanwhile Deputado Roberto Malan, a wealthy politician from Recife, is using his considerable influence to recruit the Federal Police to find his granddaughter Marta, who has run away from home after an argument with her parents about her sexual preferences. Nelson Sampaio, the sycophantic director of the Brazilian Federal Police, is only to pleased to co-operate with Malan, who is the head of the Appropriations Committee in the Chamber of Deputies. It never hurts to have powerful friends when you have political ambitions.
Therefore Federal police Chief Inspector Mario Silva, his nephew young Hector Costa, and veteran Agente Arnaldo Nunes find themselves searching for the runaways, and the trail leads to Manaus, a jungle hellhole on the Amazon, where they will meet an old enemy.
I read Dying Gasp, the third in the Mario Silva series, in two breathless sessions, and could not put it down.
It is a story about the enforced prostitution of children in Brazil, a trade that is protected by corrupt and venal local law enforcement. I did not know that Brazil was a major destination for men seeking sex with minors. Leighton Gage's books may be fiction, but they contain a lot of information about Brazil demonstrating that there is more to that country than football and beautiful beaches.
Leighton gives you details of the country's history along with the social and political commentary that make his books so addictive, and a lot more than just stories about terrible crimes.
Mario Silva and his team are not good men, they have suffered too much, and seen too much, to be good; but they are just men. They believe justice and the law are two different things, and in a country where the rich and powerful are seemingly exempt from the law their mode of Brazilian justice is sometimes the only solution. Dying Gasp is definitely not a cosy read, but it is a top notch thriller that does not pull any punches.
Dying Gasp is an exciting novel with numerous interesting character sketches, a credible plot, and an almost documentary style that gives the story such a realistic feel. I don't see Leighton Gage becoming very popular with the Brazilian Tourist Office, but I will be waiting with great anticipation for his next book.