Thursday, May 06, 2010

Blood of the Wicked by Leighton Gage

Title: Blood of the Wicked
Author: Leighton Gage
ISBN: 9781569475355, Soho Press, 2008
Genre: Police Procedural, #1 Chief Inspector Mario Silva mystery
Rating: A+
Source: The Poisoned Pen

First Line: Something took the helicopter and shook it like a jackal worrying a carcass.

Chief Inspector Mario Silva of the Federal Police is called upon to travel to remote Cascatas to investigate the assassination of a bishop. When he arrives, he finds himself in a veritable vipers' nest of crime and corruption: the bishop's assassination, the disappearance of a wealthy landowner's son, the continuing conflict between the landowners and the Landless Workers League, the deaths of homeless street children, drugs... the list seems endless. With Colonel Ferraz of the State Police in Cascatas firmly against Silva, will the inspector be able to solve any of the crimes in this remote area of Brazil?

I was bowled over by this book. First and foremost, what impressed me was how thoroughly Gage immersed me in modern Brazil. Until picking up Blood of the Wicked, the books I'd read about this country centered on a bit of colonial history, and lots of Amazonian exploration. In reading about present-day Brazil, I became acquainted with favelas (shantytowns), with the fact that dead street children are referred to as "hams", with the age-old struggle between the Haves and the Have Nots, and with a degree of police corruption that made me ill.

Although the book is excellent armchair travel, it had to be coupled with believable characters and a strong story line to get this sort of reaction from me. Chief Inspector Mario Silva is a man of principle. As a young man facing total police disinterest in finding the men responsible for the deaths of his parents, Silva took the investigation-- and the law-- into his own hands. This serves a dual purpose. The reader does become unsure of Silva's reactions and methods in Cascatas, but there is also the belief that he will fight for justice in the face of any amount of corruption.

Another character stands head and shoulders above all others: State Police Colonel Ferraz. He literally became a man I loved to hate, and I couldn't wait to see what Silva had in store for him.

Blood of the Wicked can be very brutal-- murder, torture, the corruption of absolute power, the desperation of poverty-- but the depiction of the country and the dedication of Chief Inspector Mario Silva kept me mesmerized to the final page.


  1. I have this one in the TBR pile to read Cathy - sounds like it'll be a good one. There's something very satisfying about a character you love to hate :)

  2. Oooh. This sounds great and I like the setting. (scribbling down title)

  3. Ah, this one is also on my TBR!

  4. Cathy - This sounds terrific! Having spent some time in Brazil long ago, I'm excited about the setting, and the story sounds great, too. Another for my TBR list!

  5. Not only does that book sound bloody - it sounds disturbing. I'm not sure it's for me.

  6. Like Kathy, I wonder . . . What the heck, I'll read it if I can find a copy. What's a little gore anyway?

  7. The title and the cover turn me off but - when you give a book an A+ I know there must be value here. However, it sounds a bit too bloody for me.

  8. Margot,
    The book, I admit, is anything but a cozy. So, if it's cozies you like, it will certainly not be your cup of tea.
    You might find it interesting to know, though, that the title is drawn from the Bible. (Psalms 58:10) and that the relevance is to a sermon preached by a Bishop who abhors violence in any form.
    As to the cover, it's a woodcut from Aleijadinho, Brazil's greatest baroque artist, a man who lost his fingers to leprosy - and did some of his greatest works without them. I blog about him (without mentioning the book) here:

    The blog is an endeavor I share with five other authors who set their books outside of the United States. We don't post about our own work, or the craft, but rather about the social/cultural/historical aspects of the countries in which our stories are set. And, sometimes, about the books of others.

  9. Bernadette-- I agree!

    Beth-- Don't lose that piece of paper!

    Dorte-- I'll look forward to your review!

    Margot-- I really really really enjoyed this one!

    Kathy-- It is disturbing, so it may very well not be for you.

    Barbara-- Gore doesn't bother me all that much. It's the mindset of people who believe that torture and murder are acceptable as long as it's in pursuit of their own desires.

    Margot-- It's definitely not at the cozy end of the spectrum!

    Leighton-- Murder Is Everywhere is excellent and I recommend it to everyone, including one of the employees at the Poisoned Pen recently. Thanks so much for stopping by my humble abode! :)


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