Posted: January 29, 2014 in Brazil, review

51MCMWBMsjL._The Ways Of Evil Men is the seventh and very sadly the last book in the Mario Silva Investigation series set in Brazil. Author Leighton Gage died on July 26th, 2013 of pancreatic cancer.

The Awana tribe in the Brazilian state of Para has due to poverty and disease dwindled to 41 members. Amati and his son Raoni return from a hunting trip to find the rest of the tribe dead seemingly poisoned.

Jade Calmon, an attractive young woman working  for the FUNAI, FundacoNacional do Indio, the federal government’s Indian Foundation, comes upon the couple and takes Amati back to the frontier town of Azevedo and asks Borges the head of the local police to investigate the genocide. Unfortunately most of the townspeople want the Indian reservation closed down in order to exploit the natural resources, and assume nothing will be done by Borges and the nearest federal cop in Belem. But the citizens of Azevedo are due a surprise, because Jade is an old school friend of the niece of Nelson Sampaio, the Director of Brazil’s Federal Police, and he sends Mario Silva and his team to investigate. Meanwhile one of the town’s richest oligarchs is murdered and it is convenient to believe that the Indian Amati is the culprit.

Chief Inspector Mario Silva, an honest but pragmatic cop, leads a fine team in this series. They are Arnaldo Nunes, Silva’s longtime sidekick, LG_LR_RGB_1Haraldo”Babyface” Goncalves, Hector Costa in charge of the Sao Paulo office, and Gilda Caropresso, an assistant medical examiner and Hector’s fiancee. And in this novel they have the assistance of determined journalist Maura Mandel, Jade’s best friend. A mutual attraction develops between Goncalves and Maura that would probably have developed in future books. Mario and his team question the group of wealthy people who run the frontier town of Azevedo, uncovering hatred, murder, conspiracy, infidelity and corruption.

Readers of this series will have been entertained, excited and educated about Brazil’s problems; it is a vast very wealthy country with that wealth concentrated in the hands of a very few. The books written with great clarity are full of social commentary as well as scenes of tension and action. Leighton’s ability was to sum up a situation and a character in a sentence.

His linen trousers were freshly pressed, there wasn’t a scratch on his polished boots, his wristwatch was a stainless steel Rolex, and he was using a cologne Hector had previously smelled exclusively on politicians-a sure sign it was expensive.

The Ways Of Evil Men is a fitting climax to these excellent novels as it discusses the genocide of indigenous populations, and the subsequent destruction of the rainforest by loggers and farmers. While in the crisp narrative the machismo society and Brazil’s widespread nepotism is challenged by the strong female characters, and the incorruptible cops. Mario Silva is a man who believes in justice and helping the poor and weak, and that is the factor that makes reading these books so inspiring. Silva puts the human rights of unrepresented helpless victims before those of a vicious criminal class, and his other important characteristic is that he thinks kids are God’s most precious gift.

I suspect that Leighton put a lot of himself into the character of Mario Silva, both will be sorely missed.

There is a useful list of the key characters at the start of the book, and interesting author’s notes at the end. 

The trees in that rainforest  produce more than twenty percent of the world’s oxygen. We can’t afford to lose it. 

From the author’s notes.

Read my reviews of the Mario Silva series:
  1. Margot Kinberg says:

    Norman – A fine review for which thanks. It is so sad that there won’t be another Mario Silva novel. Leighton Gage’s loss has been a blow. I would have loved to see what he’d have done with Silva in future stories had he been able to do so.

  2. Jose Ignacio says:

    Thank you Norman for another fine review. Leighton gage will be sorely missed by all his readers.

  3. […] Link: the ways of evil men: leighton gage – Crime Scraps Review … […]

  4. Ev says:

    Really enjoy your bog – so happy I found it. Big fan of Scandinavian crime fiction and discovering Leighton Gage here has been special. Just began reading his books thanks to your blog. Some years ago I worked in Brazil for couple years so really good connection for me. Thanks again and I look forward to your postings – keep up the great work.

  5. Norman Price says:

    Thanks very much, Ev.
    My best man’s parents and brother lived in Brazil, and my son worked in Brazil last year so I really enjoyed Leighton Gage’s books.

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