Every Bitter Thing
853 Broadway, NY, NY 10003
9781569479988 $14.00 sohopress.com
On the opening page of Leighton Gage's newest book, the fourth in his series featuring the Brazilian Chief Inspector Mario Silva, the reader is introduced to Jonas Palhares, a petroleum engineer who is very soon after brutally murdered in his Ipanema apartment. This is but one of several murders committed in the same manner, and with the same weapons. A famous social psychologist is soon found dead in Sao Paulo State. But when the next victim is the son of the Venezuelan foreign minister and former ambassador to Brazil, the political implications become quickly obvious, and the investigation goes into high gear.
Silva, chief inspector for criminal matters with the Federal Police, is described as "a repository of totally useless information," but self-described as possessing "occasionally amazing instances of insight. He teams up with the head of the Brasilia civil police, as well as his usual team members, including Arnaldo Nunes and Haraldo "Babyface" Goncalves, known as the Federal Police's Lothario. The body count rises, and the cops are frustrated by the fact that there seems to be no common denominator among the victims.
The author provides another glimpse into a world and a country with which this reader and I suspect many others are unfamiliar [despite my having traveled there twice, but I'm pretty sure tourism doesn't count]. We are given examples of ". . . how things work in this country . . . how the rich and powerful get justice and the rest of us can go to hell." The investigation proceeds rapidly to try to find the killer before more bodies appear, and the ending is as logical as it is startling. A thoroughly satisfying novel, and recommended.
1230 Sixth Ave., NY, NY 10020
9780743296749 $26.00 800-223-2336, simonandschuster.com
On the very first page of the prologue to "Damage Control," the terrific new book by Denise Hamilton, the reader meets high school student Maggie Weinstock. Fast forward sixteen years: Maggie is now Maggie Silver, divorced, and 33 years old. The crux of the plot stems from that earlier time frame, when Maggie, in her first two years of high school, met the Paxtons, who became the "golden ones" in her young life. Before "BFF" became part of the vernacular, their daughter, Anabelle, was that and more - she was everything Maggie admired and, to some extent, envied. And her good-looking brother, Luke, was a Surf God.
Maggie now works for the top crisis management firm in L.A., doing corporate PR. The newest client to whose case she is assigned is a U.S. Senator with a wife and grown children, a probable candidate for vice president in the next election, whose 23-year-old female aide has been found murdered, in a scenario reminiscent of the one involving Gary Conduit and Chandra Levy a decade ago. The senator is none other than Henry Paxton, Anabelle's father, who had been a father figure and a role model to Maggie all those years ago. Welcome to the wonderful world of "damage control," or spin.
This novel provides a fascinating glimpse, in a schadenfreude way, into a world about which most readers know little. Maggie suspects that her past involvement with the Paxton family is what brought the assignment to her desk. She believes, and tells her colleagues, that no member of that family is capable of murder. The response is that "everyone's capable of murder if you give them the right reason." But she is determined to prove that no member of the family is guilty. The backstory of Maggie's friendship with Anabelle, and how it ended, is the lens through which Maggie views the Paxtons. In the end, it's all about the secrets we keep from one another. As with the earlier books by Ms. Hamilton, comprised of the five books in the Eve Diamond series as well as "The Last Embrace," a standalone, "Damage Control" is thoroughly entertaining, and is recommended.
The Devil's Edge
c/o Little Brown UK
100 Victoria Embankment, London EC4Y 0DY
9781847444790 17.99 BPS littlebrown.co.uk
[This book is presently available only in/through the UK/CA, not yet available in the US]
Devil's Edge is a fairly insular world, defined, geographically at least, by the cliff edges which surround it. This book is, in a similar way, equally circumscribed. As the reader is told on the opening page, "It was one of the drawbacks of living in the countryside. Too much of the outside world intruding. Too many things it was impossible to keep out." In this novel, the outside world, and the aspects of it one would most like to keep out, intrudes in the worst way. On the eastern fringe of the Peak District, in the village of Riddings, in rural Derbyshire, there has been a rash of break-ins. The burglars have been dubbed The Savages by the press. The newest incidents escalate the anxiety when they suddenly turn deadly. The author speaks of the residents having sought sanctuary in the rural haven, noting, however, that "everyone had monsters in their lives." Suspicion turns from looking for an outside group of burglars to someone from within the community, targeting the victims, for reasons far more personal. Recently promoted D.S. Ben Cooper is assigned the investigation. He, particularly, believes it is not the work of The Savages, being much more meticulously planned and leaving no trace of the culprit[s].
D.S. Diane Fry, formerly with the West Midlands Police "in the days before she transferred to yokel...