Friday, May 18, 2012
Review of Buried Strangers by Leighton Gage (Soho Crime, 2009)
Buried Strangers is an engaging read. Gage writes in an assured, economical style heavy on dialogue and action. The political, social and economic relations of modern Brazil are laid bare without overly dominating the text; there’s plenty of context without it being a geography/history lesson. The characterization is good, with Gage able to quickly sketch a portrait that appears in the reader’s mind’s eye. The storyline for Buried Strangers is contemporary and interesting, if more than a little unsettling. The pages just fly past. That said, the book suffers from too many awkward plot devices. For example, moving a pair of witnesses hundreds of miles away to where they were uncontactable, a mother living next door to her son, Silva’s cleaner’s son using an underground emigration network in a city hundreds of miles away. There’s coincidence and then there’s plot device coincidence. There’s 200 million people in Brazil and it’s a massive country, the chances of Silva’s cleaner’s son having anything to do with the case must be astronomical. I don’t mind having to suspend disbelief every now and then, but I like it to be near-credible disbelief. Moreover, the ending unfolded in a very quick, straightforward fashion, with no twists or turns, though there was some tension. Overall, an enjoyable read, which could have been great if it hadn’t been reliant on obvious plot devices. The next book in the series is Dying Gasp and it's on my to read list.