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It's an excellent mystery but I deducted one star for the violence. It may be realistic, but this series is too bloody for ME to continue. This book spares no punches. Gage's critically acclaimed series. Inspector Silva lives and works in Brazil. He is the man in Blood of the Wicked. He was at the Hotel Oasis, the three-room inn on the Rio Negro that he and his father-in-law had built years before. Arrangements had to be made hurriedly. The small scheduled airline to Barcelos was flying up the next day, but no return was available until Thursday.

A series of telephone calls and a substantial amount of cash secured the promise of a chartered airplane. It would be waiting at the Manaus airport the next morning. Reed slept little that night, tossing restlessly in her bed. In the dark early morning, her hands were shaking as she cradled a cup of coffee.

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Before leaving the hotel room, she reached down and yanked the buckle free on her leather belt, exposing a lethal-looking, four-inch dagger. The small twin-engine plane lifted off shortly after 10 a. The Rio Negro spread out below, half a mile wide in places, black water laced with strips of bright green jungle and dotted by tiny islands. Reed had left her morning bravado on the ground.


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Replacing it was a mixture of fear, sadness and exhilaration as she approached the climax of her journey. It was dated Nov. John Reed had said that he had met Tatunca in Manaus that day and gone with him to Barcelos. They were about to set off for Akakor, and Reed was excited. But there was a note of doubt about Tatunca. The plane bounced twice and settled onto the rough landing strip that had been chopped out of the jungle at Barcelos. It was almost noon, and the sun was hot.

There was no breath of wind.

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The dense foliage pushed against the edges of the unshaded road leaving the airport. Unsmiling children watched the athletic, auburn-haired woman walk through the town, occasionally whistling in an eerie, low monotone. Along the river bank, a girl of 6 or 7 bathed naked in the water beside a beached houseboat. Suddenly, there was the Hotel Oasis, perched on a high bank above the Rio Negro. It was more a large home than a hotel. Just inside the wooden gate, watching the strangers approach, was Tatunca Nara. He wore only a pair of patterned shorts.

A turtle was tattooed on his chest. His eyes and hair were brown, and he was deeply tanned. His features were sharp, more European than Indian, and he was lean and muscular. Smiling warmly, he invited the visitors in and directed them to the shaded veranda overlooking the river. Reed and her companions sat at a small table and sipped Cokes in silence while Tatunca finished his lunch. When Tatunca moved to the small table, Reed brought out the pictures of her brother and identified herself.

She began to question him gently, retelling the stories that had circulated about those who had disappeared--her brother, Herbert Wanner, Christine Heuser. He said that he had barely known John Reed. They had spent only two or three days together, heading up the Rio Negro and the Rio Padauari. Tatunca wanted to return to Barcelos, but Reed insisted on staying. You are crazy.

Reed shook her head in disbelief. He insisted that the bones were from a wild pig he had killed some months before. And he said they were beneath the hammock, not in it. The hammock and other items, he said, were his. He told of two gold miners who had come out of the jungle about a year ago and described seeing a tall blond man living with the Indians. When Tatunca grew agitated or needed to explain something complicated, he abandoned English and Portuguese and launched into fast, fluent German.

He said he had spent seven years in West Germany. But he denied that he was born and reared there, claiming that his birthplace was near the border of Peru and Brazil. Sure, he knew of Akakor. No, he had never promised to take anyone there.

As the questioning wore on, Reed appeared to grow more incredulous. If Tatunca were telling the truth, then her brother had lied. She could never accept that. Finally, Reed could endure no more.

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She rose from her chair, fists clenched. Tatunca jumped up too.

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I have no respect for you. I hate you. You killed my brother.

What motive? Why would I kill your brother? She gathered up her papers and tape recorder and walked through the door and into the road without turning. Tatunca slumped into his chair and shook his head slowly. The road back to the airport was as hot as a sauna. Reed ducked into a tiny grocery store and emerged with two large bottles of Antarctica beer and plastic cups tucked in her blue knapsack. At the empty terminal, she pried off a beer cap with a Swiss army knife. But Johnny would have been proud of me. Leighton Gage writes entertaining books about hard truths and it is the hard truths that set his books apart.

The dying gasp one hears may well be that of a society that values pleasure at any cost above the value of life. Thanks, Jeff. I try. Some writers seem to sell books on name recognition rather than on an interesting story and characters that a real rather than cut-outs. Leighton is a terrific writer.

Read one and you will be hooked.


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Is it the type of protagonist? I am drawn to police procedurals and books with private or amateur investigators. Unfamiliar locations carry the plus of teaching about cultures and customs. Skip to content. Share this: Twitter Facebook.