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by Leighton Gage
Soho, February 2013
307 pages
ISBN: 1616951761

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

The Mario Silva series has given readers a tour of various parts of Brazil, as the federal police force in which the protagonist serves has jurisdiction throughout the country. In this, the sixth entry, we get to see more than one location, as Silva is pulled away from the scene of an ugly suicide bombing in a crowded market in Sao Paulo to investigate the assassination of an up-and-coming politician in Parana state.

In the opening pages, we follow the suicide bomber, a young Muslim man who enters the market dressed as a woman in a hijab pushing a stroller. His plan goes awry because the men who planned the attack didn't realize how much Brazilians are attracted to babies. When a woman who bends down to coo at the child realizes there's something fishy going on, he detonates his bomb early, and over sixty people are killed including the infant, who had been previously kidnapped and drugged. (Though this series is not gratuitously violent, it often portrays a very dark world.)

At just about the same moment, some 350 miles away, a popular politician who is campaigning on a pledge to sweep away corruption appears before a crowd of supporters and is shot dead as he mingles with the crowd. For political reasons, Silva is pulled away to investigate as his colleagues continue to pursue the terrorist attack. As if that were not enough, a wealthy, violent man with a grudge against Silva hires a professional killer to capture the federal investigator so that the man with a grudge can personally kill him.

Somehow, Gage keeps all of these balls in the air, never losing track as Silva digs into the personal life of the politician and as his colleagues track the explosives used in the terrorist attack. The trail leads to the volatile Tri-Border Area where Paraguay, Argentina, and Brazil share a border. This area is a busy transit point for illegal drugs, arms, and other illicit trade and has become a haven for criminals of all kinds, including corrupt public officials and Islamic militants.

It's amazing that Gage is able to combine three complex plots, several main characters, and a number of vivid settings into a fast-moving narrative that is barely over 300 pages, but he does so with brio. PERFECT HATRED is a strong entry in a fine series.

Barbara Fister is an academic librarian, columnist, and author of the Anni Koskinen mystery series.

Reviewed by Barbara Fister, March 2013

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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