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Buried Strangers    by Leighton Gage order for
Buried Strangers
by Leighton Gage
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Soho, 2008 (2008)
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* * *   Reviewed by Tim Davis

Five-years old, brown-eyed, and prone to wander away frequently from the house, Herbert surprises everyone when he proudly displays a human bone that he found near his secluded home in the densely forested Serra da Cantareira near Sao Paolo, Brazil. When police are summoned to the scene of Herbert's discovery, Herbert offers little assistance to law enforcement officials. After all, what could an old-English sheepdog contribute to the policemen's investigation?

Under the guidance of Mario Silva - the Brasilia-based federal policeman with striking jet black eyes who always wears a gray suit - the investigators quickly find something more shocking than Herbert's disturbing trophy. They find 37 human skeletons - including those of 24 children - buried together in shallow, neatly plotted graves. When the pathologists suggest a uniformly singular cause of death for every one of the bodies, Silva realizes that Sao Paolo may have either a serial murderer or something even worse in its midst.

Soon, though, the course of the investigation encounters numerous twists and turns, and the crimes discovered in Serra da Cantareira seem to have shocking connections to powerful personalities with intriguing links to Brazil's notorious history. Mario Silva, surrounded by a few impressive associates, is relentless, indefatigable, and motivated by a deeply personal reason as he pursues the person (or persons) responsible for the heinous crimes - especially maddening to Silva is the senseless murder of innocent children.

As a most highly recommended follow-up to his universally praised debut novel, Blood of the Wicked, Leighton Gage's Buried Strangers is a gritty, shocking, top-notch police procedural guaranteed to entertain even the most discerning fans of the genre. Though Buried Strangers will almost certainly offend the Brazilian federal police (who, with few exceptions, are portrayed in the novel as almost universally venal), Mario Silva (the most charming exception to the corrupt cops) will win over readers and leave them looking forward to more terrific writing from Leighton Gage.

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