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by Leighton Gage
Soho, December 2011
304 pages
ISBN: 1616950048

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Leighton Gage writes a story that seems to be ripped from today's headlines: the mother of a soccer star is kidnapped just before a major world tournament. Sound familiar? Only this is Brazil, not Venezuela. Yet Gage wrote this story at least a year or two ago, depending on his publishing timeline. It's a story he's familiar with, because this sort of thing is quite popular in certain South American countries; not so routine for North Americans, surely.

Tico "The Artist" Santos is the hope of the Brazilian soccer team, a team that desperately wants to beat the crap out of the Argentinean team. His mother is kidnapped three weeks before the FIFA World Cup. The immediate assumption is that a faction from Argentina has a hand in this. They vehemently deny this: what kind of victory will it be if they beat Brazil without Tico? No pride for them in that.

The next obvious suspect is Tico's gold-digging superstar model girlfriend, whose heart may not belong to Tico. Or is it the guy who won't play because Tico will? Or the man who won't play because Tico accidentally broke his leg in another game? Chief Inspector Mario Silva has a lot to work with, and very little time to find Juraci before the games begin.

Understanding soccer is certainly not a prerequisite for enjoying this latest Gage work. The average reader knows enough to grasp what needs to be grasped for this book. VINE is not quite as dark as some of Gage's other works, which was a pleasant surprise. Just because this isn't as dark doesn't mean that the writing is poorer, or that Gage hasn't plotted himself a winner.

The story is certainly topical, and written in Gage's usual impeccable style. The plot is all that one could want; the finale is certainly not what one expects. The motive is so believable, so real, that one walks away from VINE totally understanding why Juraci was kidnapped.

P.J. Coldren lives in northern lower Michigan where she reads and reviews widely across the mystery genre when she isn't working in her local hospital pharmacy.

Reviewed by P.J. Coldren, November 2011

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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