Review: Buried Strangers by Leighton Gage

The buried strangers of this book are the remains of dozens of people discovered in a secret cemetery in an urban forest outside São Paulo, Brazil. Chief Inspector Mario Silva of the Federal Police has to trick his self-absorbed boss into allowing him to travel from Brasilia to investigate the case. What he and his small team, which includes his nephew and fellow policeman Hector, discover is that the bodies were all buried relatively recently and that many of the graves contain multiple bodies including what appear to be family groups. Silva also makes use of the local detective who was first called in on the case and he starts to unravel the rather ghastly tale when he hears of a family that has recently gone missing.

Leighton Gage really is a terrific storyteller. In this book we spend a concentrated amount of time with several key characters on both sides of the law and Gage, using just the right mix of plot advancement and character background, absorbs the reader in each mini-story in turn and makes turning just one more page a necessity rather than an option. The various threads eventually wind their way to a satisfying and credible conclusion, though there are several twists away from the predictable along the way.

Something this book shares with its predecessor is a very strong sense of place with many aspects of Brazilian life and culture being depicted though, sadly, it is the unpleasant, uncomfortable elements that are the most memorable. We see public life in which corruption is the norm and integrity the exception. We also see a country where human life is not all equal, a theme all the more powerful because the author restrains himself from preaching or judging, choosing to demonstrate the reality through credible characters and situations which force the reader to ponder what they might do if confronted with similar circumstances.

There is also a really lovely sense of humour in the book, shown mostly through the relationships between Mario Silva and his team such as the gentle ribbing everyone gives Hector over his infatuation with a young pathologist. This adds to the credibility of the characters overall and offers some much-needed relief from the subject matter which, although less overtly violent than in the first book of the series, is at times equally harrowing. Buried Strangers has all the things that good crime fiction should offer: engaging characters, a rollicking good story and some things to make you think long after the book is back on the shelf.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

Buried Strangers has been reviewed at Crime Scraps and Kittling: Books

I have also reviewed the first book in this series, Blood of the Wicked

Norman from Crime Scraps also posted an interview with Leighton Gage just prior to the original publication of Buried Strangers in 2009. It is in three parts: one, two and three.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

My rating 4/5
Author website
Publisher Kindle editiob [this edition 2010, original edition 2009]
ISBN this eBook edition did not have one
Length 251 pages
Format eBook (ePub)
Book Series Number #2 in the Chief Inspector Mario Silva series
Source Provided free by the author

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7 Responses to Review: Buried Strangers by Leighton Gage

  1. Bernadette – As ever, a fine review. I like Gage’s work very much myself, and I think you’ve hit on two of the things that make it work. There is humour and there is a wonderful sense of place. I think those two things make it easier to face the less pleasant aspects of life that Gage depicts so very honestly. And I do like the Silva character…


  2. Maxine says:

    Good review, as ever, Bernadette.


  3. Kathy D. says:

    Very good review which compels me to read Gage’s first book. Unfortunately, the library her doesn’t have Blood of the Wicked as a circulating book, so I will buy it. Every review I read of Gage’s work is positive, in the writing, characters, sense of place and political revelations.


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  6. christiane says:

    And I bought the 3 translated books into Dutch!!!.
    In the Netherlands and Belgium people know Leighton Gage and love his Mario Silva.
    Now we also more about that country so far away: Brazil.
    I’m going to your website, Leighton, just to know how many books we may expect…
    Nice review!


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