Silva caught the signal for dismissal. Once again he rose to his feet but the director held up a hand.

'I want a report twice daily, at noon and at six, and I want to be able to get through to you anytime. Take a new cell phone, don't use it for outgoing calls, keep the number confidential, and tell Ana what it is.'

'Understood,' Silva said, trying not to let his irritation show. And, if I feel like it, I may even pick it up when you call, he thought.

Cell phones in Brazil were notoriously unreliable. The director might suspect that a lack of response was intentional, but he could never really be sure.

'And make sure you answer when I call,' the director said, fixing his subordinate with a steely gaze. 'By the way, did I tell you that the Pope called the president?'

Chapter Three

In the largest city south of the equator, springtime is generally too warm for comfort and the spring of 1978 was no exception. In those days, automobile emission standards had yet to be established. To make it worse, a thermal inversion persisted over the city for twenty-nine of October's thirty-one days. The resulting smog reduced visibility to less than 500 meters. Eyes stung. People buried their noses in handkerchiefs and addressed each other with gravelly voices emerging out of irritated throats. In Liberdade, the Japanese neighborhood, residents took to wearing surgical masks. The black waters of the Tiete, the river that flowed in a sluggish crescent around the city's western boundaries, generated vapors strong enough to bring nausea to queasy stomachs. Socks, clean and white in the morning, were peeled off at night, begrimed with black soot so fine that it penetrated shoe leather. The smell of rotting garbage hung in the air. It was a typical springtime in Sao Paulo.

Back in those days, long years before the bishop's murder, Mario Silva was at peace with the world. His legal training was behind him. So, too, was the exam that admitted him to the OAB, the Brazilian Bar Association.

In the week before his world fell apart, he'd spent his days setting up a law practice. Nights were reserved for courting Irene Camargo, a petite brunette he'd met in law school.

The twelfth of October, Irene's twenty-second birthday, was an event her parents had insisted she celebrate at home. The young couple reserved the night of the thirteenth for themselves. Friday the thirteenth. Silva didn't give the portentousness of that a second thought until much later.

The evening began well. They dined at the Ca d'Oro, one of Sao Paulo's finest restaurants, and one that Mario Silva avoided forever after. Next, they drove out onto the Rapouso Tavares, a highway lined with high-rotation motels. Silva and Irene had to wait in a long line before they could pass through one of the dimly lit kiosks. They put the car into the enclosed garage, ordered a bottle of champagne, and frolicked in the whirlpool bath while the tiny sauna came up to temperature. Afterward, they lingered in bed to talk.

It was almost 4:00 by the time Silva dropped her off, approaching 4:20, when he arrived at the house he shared with his parents. In the driveway, where his father's big Ford Galaxy should have been, was a black and white sedan. Leaning against it, puffing on cigarettes, were two men in uniform. They squinted in the glare from Silva's headlamps and then stood upright. In the seconds before he cut the lights, Silva noticed the seal of the city of Sao Paulo and the words POLICIA MUNICIPAL painted on the car. The lamp over his front door was dim, but it cast enough light to read their expressions. Those expressions were grim.

'You Mario Silva?' the older cop asked, not unkindly. He had a protuberant blue vein on his forehead, just below the hairline.


'You got a sister named Carla?'

'What is it? What happened to her?'

The cop pursed his lips. 'Nothing,' he said. 'Nothing's happened to her. Not as far as I know. Do you know where she is?'

'Probably at home, asleep.'

'She doesn't live here?'

'No. She's married. She lives with her husband. What's this all about?'

The cop threw his cigarette to the macadam and ground out the glowing butt with his heel. 'Sergeant Mancuso,' he said, extending a hand, 'Sao Paulo PD.' His palm was moist. 'This is Officer Branco,' he continued. The younger cop nodded, but didn't offer to shake hands.

'Is it about my parents?'

Mancuso gave a little nod.

'Your mother's in the hospital,' he said, then added quickly, 'She's fine. She's going to be okay, but your father…'

He made a little grunting noise in his throat.

'What? What about my father?'

Mancuso reached out his hand, gripped Silva's upper arm and gave him a squeeze of sympathy. The younger cop, fat and with a baby face that made him look like a cherub, answered Silva's question.

'They shot him.'

'Shot him? Is he-'

'Dead,' the cherub said, bluntly.

Mancuso, the older cop, bit his lower lip. Even in the pale light, Silva could see the lip turning white.

'Dead?' Silva blinked, trying to get his head around the idea. After a moment, he said, 'Who did it?'

Mancuso gave his arm a final squeeze and let go. 'How about we go inside?'

In a daze, Silva unlocked the front door and led the way into the living room. Without being invited, the cherub sat down on the couch. Mancuso remained standing. Silva walked over to the piano, picked up the wedding picture of his parents and stared at it. 'How did it happen?' he asked, trying to get his head around what they were telling him.

'Your dad screwed up, Senhor Silva,' the cherub said. 'He stopped for a red light.'

Silva felt a sudden flash of anger. He looked up. 'I'm sorry, Officer. What was your name again?'


'My father always stopped for red lights, Officer Branco.'

'Yeah? Tell me something, Senhor Silva. How long did he live in this town?'

'All his life. He was born here.'

'A native-born Paulista, huh? Then he should have known better. You can't stop for a red light. Not after midnight. The best thing is to slow down and keep rolling. That's what most people do.'

'I know what most people do, Officer, but my father isn't…' Silva swallowed '… wasn't like that. As far as I know, he never broke a law in his life, never even got a speeding ticket.'

'Too bad everybody's not like him,' Mancuso said.

Silva searched the older cop's face for a sign of irony. There wasn't one. He put the photo back on the piano. 'Where's my mother?'

'At the Hospital das Clinicas. They got her under sedation,' the cherub said, 'so it's not going to make any difference to her whether you get there in twenty minutes or two hours. Why don't you sit down a little? I'll tell you the rest.'

'I'll stand.'

'Suit yourself, but when I finish you're going to wish you were sitting.'

Mancuso narrowed his eyes at his partner. 'That's enough, Paulo,' he said. 'Let me tell it.'

'Well, excuse me,' the cherub said petulantly, and crossed his arms in front of his chest.

Mancuso turned his back on him and addressed Silva. 'Your mother was pretty hysterical before they put her under,' he said, 'so we still don't have all the details. Basically, the story is this: Your parents were coming home from some kind of a party-'

'A charity affair,' Silva said. 'A dinner to raise funds for a new wing at Nossa Senhora de Misericordia. My father is… was a doctor there.'

'Right. So they were coming home, and your old man stopped for a red light, and two elements came up on your mother's side, tapped on the window and pointed a handgun at her head. Your father did the right thing. He

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