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“Blood of the Wicked manages to pack a huge amount into a spare three hundred pages; power politics, petty violence, sexual scandal, saintly courage, staggering poverty and obscene wealth. A book that makes you care about its large cast of characters, even when you know that they are going to die—frequently horribly. This is a novel as rich and complex as Brazil itself, wi “Blood of the Wicked manages to pack a huge amount into a spare three hundred pages; power politics, petty violence, sexual scandal, saintly courage, staggering poverty and obscene wealth. A book that makes you care about its large cast of characters, even when you know that they are going to die—frequently horribly. This is a novel as rich and complex as Brazil itself, with villains who make you want to spit, and heroes whose goodness is heartbreaking.”—Rebecca Pawel, Edgar Award-winning author of Death of a Nationalist In the remote Brazilian town of Cascatas do Pontal, where landless peasants are confronting the owners of vast estates, the bishop arrives by helicopter to consecrate a new church and is assassinated. Mario Silva, chief inspector for criminal matters of the federal police of Brazil, is dispatched to the interior to find the killer. The pope himself has called Brazil’s president; the pressure is on Silva to perform. Assisted by his nephew, Hector Costa, also a federal policeman, Silva must battle the state police and a corrupt judiciary as well as criminals who prey on street kids, the warring factions of the Landless League, the big landowners, and the church itself, in order to solve the initial murder and several brutal killings that follow. Justice is hard to come by. An old priest, a secret liberation theologist, finally metes it out. Here is a Brazil that tourists never encounter. Leighton Gage is married to a Brazilian woman and spends part of each year in Santana do Parnaiba, Brazil, and the rest of the year in Florida and Belgium. This is his first novel.


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“Blood of the Wicked manages to pack a huge amount into a spare three hundred pages; power politics, petty violence, sexual scandal, saintly courage, staggering poverty and obscene wealth. A book that makes you care about its large cast of characters, even when you know that they are going to die—frequently horribly. This is a novel as rich and complex as Brazil itself, wi “Blood of the Wicked manages to pack a huge amount into a spare three hundred pages; power politics, petty violence, sexual scandal, saintly courage, staggering poverty and obscene wealth. A book that makes you care about its large cast of characters, even when you know that they are going to die—frequently horribly. This is a novel as rich and complex as Brazil itself, with villains who make you want to spit, and heroes whose goodness is heartbreaking.”—Rebecca Pawel, Edgar Award-winning author of Death of a Nationalist In the remote Brazilian town of Cascatas do Pontal, where landless peasants are confronting the owners of vast estates, the bishop arrives by helicopter to consecrate a new church and is assassinated. Mario Silva, chief inspector for criminal matters of the federal police of Brazil, is dispatched to the interior to find the killer. The pope himself has called Brazil’s president; the pressure is on Silva to perform. Assisted by his nephew, Hector Costa, also a federal policeman, Silva must battle the state police and a corrupt judiciary as well as criminals who prey on street kids, the warring factions of the Landless League, the big landowners, and the church itself, in order to solve the initial murder and several brutal killings that follow. Justice is hard to come by. An old priest, a secret liberation theologist, finally metes it out. Here is a Brazil that tourists never encounter. Leighton Gage is married to a Brazilian woman and spends part of each year in Santana do Parnaiba, Brazil, and the rest of the year in Florida and Belgium. This is his first novel.

30 review for Blood of the Wicked

  1. 4 out of 5

    Robert Intriago

    On December 12, 2010, I read a review in the crime section on the New York Times Book section about Leighton Gage's new book "Every Bitter Thing" The reviewer gave it a thumbs up. I decided to read Gage's first book and did not expect very much. To my surprise an almost noir book, I will explain my "almost noir" later, with an intelligent narrative about social conditions in Brazil. The story has torture, corruption, murder, male prostitution, rape and various other crimes. The story revolves aro On December 12, 2010, I read a review in the crime section on the New York Times Book section about Leighton Gage's new book "Every Bitter Thing" The reviewer gave it a thumbs up. I decided to read Gage's first book and did not expect very much. To my surprise an almost noir book, I will explain my "almost noir" later, with an intelligent narrative about social conditions in Brazil. The story has torture, corruption, murder, male prostitution, rape and various other crimes. The story revolves around the struggle of the landless farmers versus the landed gentry. The poor farmers are driven by the desire to occupy uncultivated land held by the rich in the "Che Guevara" manner. The farmers are helped by priests that belief in Liberation Theology. The author has a great explanation of the theory as part of the narrative. The main character is Inspector Silva an attorney, who driven by revenge to find the murderer of his parents becomes a policeman. In my opinion in a great crime noir the opposite characters in the story are devoid of scruples and the difference is degree. The author in this case has a good detective that in my opinion is not well developed. There are some chapters that give his background but his participation in the solving of the crime is minimal. He is very scrupulous and follows the rules, the only exception is in the revenge of the killings of his parents. Inspector Silva seems to hang around and watch others solve the crime and he appears to be a bystander that receives the benefit of the investigation by others. On the other hand the bad characters are truly hateful.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Shirley Schwartz

    This book spares no punches. It was my first introduction to Chief Inspector Mario Silva and to Mr. Gage's critically acclaimed series. Inspector Silva lives and works in Brazil. He is the man in charge of the Criminal Matters division in the Brazil Federal Police. He is directed to a small, remote village by the name of Cascatas do Pontal in order to investigate the assignation of a Bishop. Silva is assissted by his nephew and fellow federal policeman Hector Costa, and his preferred back up - A This book spares no punches. It was my first introduction to Chief Inspector Mario Silva and to Mr. Gage's critically acclaimed series. Inspector Silva lives and works in Brazil. He is the man in charge of the Criminal Matters division in the Brazil Federal Police. He is directed to a small, remote village by the name of Cascatas do Pontal in order to investigate the assignation of a Bishop. Silva is assissted by his nephew and fellow federal policeman Hector Costa, and his preferred back up - Amaldo Nunes. Silva is an interesteing protagonist. My main complaint about the book is that Silva doesn't seem to do much. He sort of always arrives after the fact, and usually fate or some other person has taken care of the problem by the time he gets there. But I loved Amaldo, the beefy, street-smart cop with the heart of a lion and an unfailing faith in Silva. Silva and his two cohorts uncover a hotbed of corruption, greed, unrelenting poverty and a Brazil that we as tourists would never see. By the end of the book, a lot of people have been killed, and some of the killings are protrayed in graphic detail. The book though is realistic and gritty and looks to be a great start to a very promising series.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Leighton Gage

    Praise for Blood Of The Wicked “…top notch… Gage smoothly expands his focus on the assassination of an ambitious bishop to encompass the controversial and entirely absorbing issue of whether the clergy should involve themselves in the politics of land distribution among the poor.” New York Times “Leighton Gage achieves both a powerful political thriller and gripping crime fiction in his fascinating debut…Gage proves himself a true storyteller.” Florida Sun Sentinel “a gripping and b Praise for Blood Of The Wicked “…top notch… Gage smoothly expands his focus on the assassination of an ambitious bishop to encompass the controversial and entirely absorbing issue of whether the clergy should involve themselves in the politics of land distribution among the poor.” New York Times “Leighton Gage achieves both a powerful political thriller and gripping crime fiction in his fascinating debut…Gage proves himself a true storyteller.” Florida Sun Sentinel “a gripping and brutal tale of murder and vengeance. Highly recommended.” (Starred Review) Library Journal “Gage’s emotionally-charged debut…vividly evokes a country of political corruption, startling economic disparity, and relentless crime, both random and premeditated.” Booklist “Gage’s debut…creates a contemporary tapestry of Brazil (and) builds a compelling foundation for future Silva cases.” Kirkus Reviews “A terrific mystery, a strongly written and powerful novel that will be remembered long after the final pages are read” Mysterious Reviews

  4. 5 out of 5

    Maui Island

    First an important note. This book is extremely violent and many of the descriptions of violence are abhorrent. It is very difficult to take, and certainly for many (most), an insurmountable obstacle. But despite of this, or because of it, the story is a very convincing portrayal of the misery, squalor and hopelessness of the plight of the majority of the inhabitants of Brazil. Federal police inspector Silva encounters and deals with (more or less) a venal landowner thug, this thug's vicious son First an important note. This book is extremely violent and many of the descriptions of violence are abhorrent. It is very difficult to take, and certainly for many (most), an insurmountable obstacle. But despite of this, or because of it, the story is a very convincing portrayal of the misery, squalor and hopelessness of the plight of the majority of the inhabitants of Brazil. Federal police inspector Silva encounters and deals with (more or less) a venal landowner thug, this thug's vicious son and hired guns, leaders of the radical opponents of the landowners, a glamorous journalist, a pedophile priest and his servant, a Belgian priest reminiscent of the other expat Belgian priest Damian, and a rapacious murder local police captain who controls most of the criminal activities in the area. The book is well written and the plot develops well with the complexities required to make the story flow. And instead of the too oft deus ex machina resolution, the ending is not inevitable.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Ms.pegasus

    The corruption Leighton Gage portrays is visceral, a malignancy infecting every level of Brazilian society. At the local level, police chief Col. Ferrez heads a mafia-like criminal enterprise. He has built on a past that included unspeakable acts of torture on political prisoners dating back to 1976 when the military dictatorship came into power. Orlando Muniz is a prominent landowner and industrialist. Like others of his class he practices de facto slavery to keep impoverished peasants tied to The corruption Leighton Gage portrays is visceral, a malignancy infecting every level of Brazilian society. At the local level, police chief Col. Ferrez heads a mafia-like criminal enterprise. He has built on a past that included unspeakable acts of torture on political prisoners dating back to 1976 when the military dictatorship came into power. Orlando Muniz is a prominent landowner and industrialist. Like others of his class he practices de facto slavery to keep impoverished peasants tied to his vast land holdings, and maintains a private armed militia just in case someone steps out of line. Street children roam as prostitutes, pimps, thieves and drug dealers, and live in squalid neighborhoods (favelas) even local cab drivers avoid out of fear. Even the clergy cannot be trusted. Officially, activists (advocates of the so-called liberation theology) for the poor have been banned. Too often clerical interests seem aligned with the power elite. The main character is Mario Silva, Chief Inspector for Criminal Matters for the Federal Police. Evidence of the Federal government's impotence in local governance is everywhere. Particularly telling is Col. Ferrez's insulting treatment of Silva, newly arrived to conduct an investigation. Included in this novel is Silva's backstory. Silva's father was a doctor but not politically prominent. He was murdered in a brutal street robbery when Silva was a child back in 1978. The perpetrator was never caught, for, as Leighton explains: “São Paulo was one of the major murder capitals of the world, and the municipal police had other priorities” (p.26). One of those priorities was shaking down local petty thieves for a share of their spoils. Another was protecting those with political connections. No wonder a mere murder investigation was a low priority. The book opens with the assassination of Dom Felipe Antures, newly appointed bishop said to be on the fast track to the College of Cardinals. Unlike the murder of Silva's father, or for that matter, the torture and execution a few months earlier of a local activist with the Landless Worker's League and his entire family, or the string of recent murders of street children, this murder attracts attention. The pope has contacted the president who in turn has contacted his Director of Federal Police and Silva's boss, Nelson Sampaio. Silva forms a team that includes his nephew Hector Costa who is also with the Federal police, and the street-wise veteran Arnaldo Nunes. Short chapters with suspenseful endings enliven the story as the efforts of the three investigators unfold simultaneously. Gage excels in creating vivid characters. Hector meets the local priest, Gaspar Faria: “Completely bald, Father Gaspar had slightly protuberant eyes, a wide mouth, virtually no neck and a double chin. His head seemed to be out of proportion to the rest of his body. He reminded Hector of a huge frog.” (p.47) A cynical photojournalist, Walter Abenthaler, frames a series of publicity photos of the bishop's arrival. The photos must include the billboard of Abenthaler's client, Fertilbras, Brazil's largest fertilizer manufacturer. Abenthaler quips: “that there was a similiarity between what the Catholic Church and his client offered to the public....'The Church peddles bullshit, another form of fertilizer...Get it?'” (p.8) Gage even manages to insert a bit of grim humor into his story. Silva's investigation is interrupted twice daily by the frantic hysterics of his boss, fearful of his image and of the anger of his political overseers. His sputtering discomfiture feels like comic relief against the backdrop of even more violence, depicted in grisly detail. The plot, the multiple characters, the unusual setting, and Gage's cogent writing made this a five star reading experience.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Deb Jones

    Oh my! Before opening the cover of this one, I was skeptical as to whether or not I would enjoy a story that openly examines and confronts the rampant corruption that exists in all levels of government in Brazil -- or at least it does in the eyes of the author. By the third chapter, all my skepticism was gone and replaced by a keen interest to find out what happens next. On a much smaller scale than that of the people who live there, I alternately felt surprised, angered and then disheartened by Oh my! Before opening the cover of this one, I was skeptical as to whether or not I would enjoy a story that openly examines and confronts the rampant corruption that exists in all levels of government in Brazil -- or at least it does in the eyes of the author. By the third chapter, all my skepticism was gone and replaced by a keen interest to find out what happens next. On a much smaller scale than that of the people who live there, I alternately felt surprised, angered and then disheartened by the acts of those in power, whether in the government or in the church. Chief Inspector Mario Silva is an intriguing man who goes about his work despite the corruption that is almost everywhere. Silva is far from being an angel, but he does stand head and shoulders above many of the other characters in the story when it comes to morality and law enforcement.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Christine

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I don't really know much about Brazil. I know a little about the land wars, in particular about the violence with the land wars. I think I heard something a few years ago about women only buses or subway cars. And Carnival. And the falevas as well as the whole thing about the building for the Olympics and World Cup. And the football team, beautiful football team. That's it. Sad I know. This book isn't a bad book. In fact, there is much to recommend it, in particular about the clash between very ri I don't really know much about Brazil. I know a little about the land wars, in particular about the violence with the land wars. I think I heard something a few years ago about women only buses or subway cars. And Carnival. And the falevas as well as the whole thing about the building for the Olympics and World Cup. And the football team, beautiful football team. That's it. Sad I know. This book isn't a bad book. In fact, there is much to recommend it, in particular about the clash between very rich and very poor. So why three stars? For the same reason, in part, I gave The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo three stars. The whole violence against women thing. Look I know that women are more likely to be the victims of violent crime. I know. But the women in this book who get killed must take stupid pills or something. I'm suppose to believe that they are really good reporters who then act like stupid idiots. Once, maybe, but the second woman after she knows the first woman was killed? Really? It isn't just the major supporting women either. Its women who have cameos. It's annoying. It's just women as victims and it annoys me. To be fair, the heroes aren't the princes on white chargers, so it makes it easier to swallow, but still. However, I kept reading. The plot and soical commentry are good.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Bill

    Blood of the Wicked by Leighton Gage is the first book in the Chief Inspector Mario Silva mystery series set in Brazil. Silva is the Chief Inspector for Criminal Affairs for the Brazilian Federal Police. He is sent to a northern state to investigate the murder of a Bishop. He brings along his nephew, Hector Costa, a federal investigator and Investigator Arnaldo. The trio must deal with a corrupt, vicious state police commander and lawless land owners as they investigates the murder. This is a gri Blood of the Wicked by Leighton Gage is the first book in the Chief Inspector Mario Silva mystery series set in Brazil. Silva is the Chief Inspector for Criminal Affairs for the Brazilian Federal Police. He is sent to a northern state to investigate the murder of a Bishop. He brings along his nephew, Hector Costa, a federal investigator and Investigator Arnaldo. The trio must deal with a corrupt, vicious state police commander and lawless land owners as they investigates the murder. This is a gritty, violent story and the bodies pile up very quickly as whoever is doing the crime starts getting rid of witnesses. Silva and his team seem to be one step behind what's going on but at the same time, you can see that he has an idea about what is going on. His assistants are both interesting, competent police officers. There are many interesting story lines; the battle between the land owners and the peasants who fight for their own piece of land; the battle between the federal police and the state police, etc. It's an interesting view of a culture that is totally unfamiliar to me and I do look forward to finding out more about Silva and his friends and the country. There are many frustrations in the story as people you like die off but at the same time there is an ultimate satisfaction to the ending. An excellent start to a series (4 stars)

  9. 4 out of 5

    Rob Kitchin

    Blood of the Wicked is a crime novel meets social commentary, examining the nature of policing, justice, access to land and a livelihoods, street kids, liberation theology, and massive inequalities in wealth and power in Brazil. It would have been easy for Gage to drift into writing little more than a sermon on corruption and the injustices suffered by the peasant class in country, but he manages to keep the story of the investigation centre stage, with the social commentary drifting out through Blood of the Wicked is a crime novel meets social commentary, examining the nature of policing, justice, access to land and a livelihoods, street kids, liberation theology, and massive inequalities in wealth and power in Brazil. It would have been easy for Gage to drift into writing little more than a sermon on corruption and the injustices suffered by the peasant class in country, but he manages to keep the story of the investigation centre stage, with the social commentary drifting out through its telling. And it is a powerful tale, well told. The plotting is, for the most part, excellent, though I did feel the plot line with the journalist was closed off when it could have profitably been kept open and the deaths of several people with powerful connections would have meant the city being flooded with dozens of federal cops, not just Silva and two colleagues. But these are minor gripes. The characterization is strong across a range of characters, not just the principles, and Silva is a detective worth spending time with. Where the book excels is in its evocation of place and its social history and commentary. If you like your fiction to inform and educate as well entertain, then Blood of the Wicked is well worth a read.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Junying

    Wow, what a book! Mr Gage, you've got a new fan :) This book is my FIRST in several aspects: my very first book about Chief Inspector Mario Silva, my first crime fiction set in Brazil, my first of Leighton Gage's crime series, and I am already addicted! I have a three novel collection in my possession so I will be delving into the next in the series as soon as I have a spare moment. A full review will be coming when I finish the other two, and there is absolutely no doubt that I shall be reading Wow, what a book! Mr Gage, you've got a new fan :) This book is my FIRST in several aspects: my very first book about Chief Inspector Mario Silva, my first crime fiction set in Brazil, my first of Leighton Gage's crime series, and I am already addicted! I have a three novel collection in my possession so I will be delving into the next in the series as soon as I have a spare moment. A full review will be coming when I finish the other two, and there is absolutely no doubt that I shall be reading more of Mr Gage's follow-ups.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Carolien

    Blood of the Wicked is an interesting read set in the context of Brazil's challenges regarding land reform, crime and poverty. The complex plot underlines the integration of these elements in Brazilian society and it contains a cast of characters that reflect those realities. A solid debut that introduces a series worth investigating. Blood of the Wicked is an interesting read set in the context of Brazil's challenges regarding land reform, crime and poverty. The complex plot underlines the integration of these elements in Brazilian society and it contains a cast of characters that reflect those realities. A solid debut that introduces a series worth investigating.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Liz Estrada

    3.5 stars. The author, who has lived in Brazil for 30 years, did a great job in portraying how corruption and greed works in Brazil. Uses some historical perspective and though he doesn't use real names, I knew who he was referring to. All unfortunately rings too true. 3.5 stars. The author, who has lived in Brazil for 30 years, did a great job in portraying how corruption and greed works in Brazil. Uses some historical perspective and though he doesn't use real names, I knew who he was referring to. All unfortunately rings too true.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Maddy

    PROTAGONIST: Inspector Mario Silva SETTING: Brazil SERIES: 1 of 1 RATING: 3.0 It has been said that "reading is an adventure", and one of my favorite reading adventures is to spend time in a place that I haven't visited before. BLOOD OF THE WICKED is set in Brazil; any preconceptions that I had about partying and dancing in the streets most of the time were certainly quashed. Based on this book, I won't be packing my bags to go there any time soon for a visit. When Bishop Dom Felipe is murdered at th PROTAGONIST: Inspector Mario Silva SETTING: Brazil SERIES: 1 of 1 RATING: 3.0 It has been said that "reading is an adventure", and one of my favorite reading adventures is to spend time in a place that I haven't visited before. BLOOD OF THE WICKED is set in Brazil; any preconceptions that I had about partying and dancing in the streets most of the time were certainly quashed. Based on this book, I won't be packing my bags to go there any time soon for a visit. When Bishop Dom Felipe is murdered at the consecration of a new church in the small town of Cascatas do Pontal, Inspector Mario Silva, Chief Inspector for Criminal Matters, is sent to investigate. As you can imagine, there's a lot at stake. Even the Pope has his eye on the matter. Silva's investigation uncovers a hornet's nest of problems in the area. There's enough political intrigue and double crossing to spread over an entire continent. One of the major issues in the area has to do with a government policy that allows landless peasants to have squatter's rights on any property that is not being used productively. They may legally occupy a large portion of a rich landowner's property if he hasn't developed the land. The confrontations between the two groups tend to turn lethal. BLOOD OF THE WICKED provides an eye-opening look at the inner workings of a place that has vastly different views of justice than in the Western world. There are no heroes in this book. Even Silva often goes outside the law to exact revenge or administer his own brand of justice. It's natural to expect that a man in his position would have more ethics than he exhibits. He tends to handle problems by asking the wronged to turn their backs while he does things on his own terms. Although the book was well written and thought provoking, the unceasing brutality and general lack of integrity of the characters made it impossible for me to like. It's heartbreaking to see the extremes of poverty that exist, but even more so to see how little life is valued. The horrific violence and cruel inhumanity of many of the characters were just too much for me to take. Gage is married to a Brazilian woman and spends part of the year there. Given that, it would seem that his depiction of the various economic and political problems is pretty much on target.

  14. 5 out of 5

    J. Ewbank

    This book by Leighton Gage is a powerful book. The characters are well drawn out. The plot is dynamic amd interesting. It takes place in Brazil and it takes a little while to get used to the characters and their roles, but it quickly makes up for any problems of location. It is a mystery or cop story but it is a real thriller. I really enjoyed this one. J. Robert Ewbank author "John Wesley, Natural Man, and the 'Isms'" This book by Leighton Gage is a powerful book. The characters are well drawn out. The plot is dynamic amd interesting. It takes place in Brazil and it takes a little while to get used to the characters and their roles, but it quickly makes up for any problems of location. It is a mystery or cop story but it is a real thriller. I really enjoyed this one. J. Robert Ewbank author "John Wesley, Natural Man, and the 'Isms'"

  15. 4 out of 5

    Marie-Jo Fortis

    I am no fan of violence —no gratuitous violence that is; and this is an R-rated novel with nearly unbearable scenes. But there is nothing gratuitous about it. Gage knows how far he can go and where to stop. That’s the mark of an author who knows his craft; how to make it a tool as efficient as possible to send a message without being didactic. Here, the blades are sharpened to the max. We are in Brazil, but certainly not at the Carnaval do Rio, for levity has no place here. In this thriller wit I am no fan of violence —no gratuitous violence that is; and this is an R-rated novel with nearly unbearable scenes. But there is nothing gratuitous about it. Gage knows how far he can go and where to stop. That’s the mark of an author who knows his craft; how to make it a tool as efficient as possible to send a message without being didactic. Here, the blades are sharpened to the max. We are in Brazil, but certainly not at the Carnaval do Rio, for levity has no place here. In this thriller with many victims no one is really innocent; in some locales, innocence can be a dangerous luxury. Who killed a bishop and left a whole trail of bodies only contours the plot. The core lies in the social injustice of a system that tortures and, while doing so, is absurdly applying self-torture as well —that can only lead to the victim’s revolt whose response will emulate its torturer’s. The Brazilian landowners who kill for more land while depriving the landless of their due are reminiscent of feudalism, as well as of the omnipotence of an overfed capitalism that exploits the workers and sends them home with hardly enough income to live with dignity. Countries like the US have smoothed out the system and basically legalized theft. Powers that be will deny this. But when a majority of workers produce the greatest amount of work and few at the top collect most of the benefits of that work, what do you call it? The decor that Gage chooses to depict is in appearance cruder, rougher; yet based on similar principles. The wealthy buy the complicity of the police (this could never happen here; of course not) who are as greedy and power hungry as their payers. The massacres, body cutting and rapes authored by aforementioned police are not only unendurable because of the cruelty involved, but because the reader senses that such cruelty does not only occur four thousand miles away. Injustice, no matter how it manifests itself, is always a form of cruelty. Leaving the poor in a state where we know there will find no way out, what do we call that? ( In a crushing scene Gage depicts that poverty, where a room contains a bed for a whole family, a black and white TV, and little less. And outside the rickety door, a fifty-fifty live or die possibility, with gangs at every corner.) It’s just in-your-face with Gage’s depiction of Brazilian landless workers who fight the owners of huge fazendas. The reader will side with the rebels, not necessarily with their ruthlessness, even if she sees some justification there. The whole panorama —or lack thereof— is an open wound. The victims lay deep within it; and the powerful think they can play with it. But all are blinded by blood, including Father Angelo (note his name here), one of Gage’s tragic figures and in my view his most successful character. As effective as this novel is —sustained here by Gage’s incredibly strong prose— the novel could have benefited from one or two more developed characters. I must admit that in the huge tableau the author proposes this might have been a nearly impossible task. If the symmetry of the chapters contributes to the solidity of the plot, it occasionally slows it to the point of near immobility. Had Gage decided to let some chapters run in a more natural way, less evenly, with less control on his part, the problems mentioned above might have been resolved. Still, this is one important book, and Gage is an author who cannot be ignored.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Nick

    Brazil federal police chief inspector Mario Silva arrives in a backwater town to investigate the assassination of a Catholic prelate, only to uncover a seething cauldron of corruption and class warfare between the landowners and the peasants. A powerful local police official commands a rogue death squad at the service of the landowners, and the peasants square off with an occupying army supported by the remnants of the liberation theology clergy. This is a well-crafted police procedural with lot Brazil federal police chief inspector Mario Silva arrives in a backwater town to investigate the assassination of a Catholic prelate, only to uncover a seething cauldron of corruption and class warfare between the landowners and the peasants. A powerful local police official commands a rogue death squad at the service of the landowners, and the peasants square off with an occupying army supported by the remnants of the liberation theology clergy. This is a well-crafted police procedural with lots of cross currents of social, political, and personal agendas -- just the way I like my cop novels. Happy I discovered this first in a series, and will be going back for more I think

  17. 4 out of 5

    Beth

    BLOOD OF THE WICKED opens with the assassination of a Catholic bishop. Moments after he steps off a helicopter in Cascatas to dedicate a church, Bishop Antunes is killed by a sniper’s shot. His death immediately pits the Landless Workers’ League, the poor, against the land owners, the very rich, who want to it believed that the murder was a plot by the League. The church in Brazil is divided into those who follow the rules set by the Vatican and those who are still in sympathy with the principles BLOOD OF THE WICKED opens with the assassination of a Catholic bishop. Moments after he steps off a helicopter in Cascatas to dedicate a church, Bishop Antunes is killed by a sniper’s shot. His death immediately pits the Landless Workers’ League, the poor, against the land owners, the very rich, who want to it believed that the murder was a plot by the League. The church in Brazil is divided into those who follow the rules set by the Vatican and those who are still in sympathy with the principles of liberation theology. Gage makes reference to the murder of Archbishop Oscar Romero, who was shot while offering Mass in San Salvador. Romero was becoming increasingly supportive of the liberation theology movement, which interprets the teachings of Christ as calling for liberation from economic, political, and social conditions that deprive the poor of basic necessities and human decency. The military in San Salvador took responsibility for the death of Romero but which side, the landless workers or the land owners, had the most to gain by the clergyman’s death. Bishop Antunes, murdered before he stepped into the church building, was an unknown quantity. Did he support the Landless Workers’ League in violation of the directives from Rome or did he support the land owners who controlled the government? Mario Silva, Chief Inspector for Criminal Matters for the federal police of Brazil, is called upon to bring the matter of the bishop’s murder to a quick and successful close. To the politicians who try to influence Silva, that means finding the killer among the landless workers. But, once in Cascatas, Silva’s case expands to include drug peddling, the emergence of a serial killer, the deaths of those who try to learn the truth, and a population in terror of its police. There is a great deal of blood in this story and there is a seemingly endless parade of the wicked. There are few heroes either, including Silva, a man with a strong moral code but a code, nonetheless, that recognizes the corrupt and ineffectual justice system in his country. He is a man who has also been motivated by vengeance. There are heroes in unexpected places but even the heroes are bathed in the blood of the wicked. Leighton Gage has written a story that demands that once started, must be finished without interruption. As flawed as Mario is, he is the image of right against might. When it seems that all the depravity has been revealed, there is still more. The church harbors saints and sinners and sometimes they are the same people. Those sworn to serve and protect the people are the worst perpetrators of violence against the innocent. Gage does what seems impossible and brings the story to an end that is real and just when there isn’t any hope for justice. BLOOD OF THE WICKED is the first in the Mario Silva series.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Tracyk

    I am partial to police procedurals. Blood of the Wicked (2008) by Leighton Gage is a great example of that genre. It is a police procedural with a difference because it is set in Brazil and the police authorities are structured differently in Brazil than here in the US, or so it seems to me. There is a Federal group (Brazilian Federal Police) and State Police. It made for a complex interaction between the protagonist, Chief Inspector Mario Silva of the federal branch, and the Colonel in charge o I am partial to police procedurals. Blood of the Wicked (2008) by Leighton Gage is a great example of that genre. It is a police procedural with a difference because it is set in Brazil and the police authorities are structured differently in Brazil than here in the US, or so it seems to me. There is a Federal group (Brazilian Federal Police) and State Police. It made for a complex interaction between the protagonist, Chief Inspector Mario Silva of the federal branch, and the Colonel in charge of the state police in the remote town of Cascatas do Pontal. Silva has been dispatched to Cascatas do Pontal because a bishop of the Roman Catholic Church has been assassinated. Dom Felipe Antunes, Bishop of Presidente Vargas, was in the town to consecrate a church. The Pope has called the Presidente, and he has called Silva's boss, who wants the situation taken care of quickly. Silva brings his team, Delegado Hector Costa and Agente Arnaldo Nunes. Hector is his nephew and all three of them work well together. There are plenty of suspects, a lot of bodies piling up, and corruption in the legal system working against any progress towards a solution. In addition to the police procedural aspects, I liked the picture of Brazil and the political and sociological issues in that country. The story is told in a straightforward way; there are not a lot of descriptive passages. Time is spent on fleshing out characters, even the peripheral ones. The back story of how Silva has become a policeman is covered in depth and provides insight into his character. But the reader should be forewarned that there is a lot of violence and brutality in this book. I felt that the level of violence was warranted, in that the book is describing a very corrupt situation in Brazil. It all seemed realistic, although it was not a comfortable read.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Amy

    A trip to a very violent town in rural Brazil. From early on, the reader knows who the bad guys are, and the detective does too. The story then is about how to bring the bad guys to some sort of justice. Along the way, we get scenes of torture and murder, and a few lessons in Brazil's land reform politics. The writing is well paced, and the ending satisfies. The characters don't really stand out here. Protagonist Mario Silva has a backstory sort of like a superhero. He ends up in the federal poli A trip to a very violent town in rural Brazil. From early on, the reader knows who the bad guys are, and the detective does too. The story then is about how to bring the bad guys to some sort of justice. Along the way, we get scenes of torture and murder, and a few lessons in Brazil's land reform politics. The writing is well paced, and the ending satisfies. The characters don't really stand out here. Protagonist Mario Silva has a backstory sort of like a superhero. He ends up in the federal police force because he has a law degree and because he wants to solve a very personal, very terrible crime. On the plus side, compared to many other (mostly American?) crime novel heroes, Silva's personal life seems under control, and he works well with his nephew and another good buddy. But he doesn't have interesting quirks or some special crime-solving flair. If he's meant to be the lead in a series, something more needs to be done with him. The author does a pretty nice job working in asides to explain Brazilian culture and law. In most novels, these tend to feel a bit stilted, but here I appreciated them because the only things I know about Brazil are what I've seen on food and travel shows. And this is not Anthony Bourdain's Brazil. This story reminded me most of the 1970s movie, "Chinatown." Class, corruption, heartless landowners, innocent farmers, and a retro/old school feel of pure good fighting pure evil.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Shonna Froebel

    This mystery novel set in Brazil features Chief Inspector Mario Silva, and is the first in the series. We get introduced to Mario's past, seeing how he began with the police, the horrible event that drove him to it, and learn about his sense of justice. That was back in 1978. It is now the 21st century and Mario is now Chief Inspector for Criminal Matters of the Federal Police of Brazil. When the bishop is killed very publicly as he arrives in the remote town of Cascatas do Pontal to consecrate This mystery novel set in Brazil features Chief Inspector Mario Silva, and is the first in the series. We get introduced to Mario's past, seeing how he began with the police, the horrible event that drove him to it, and learn about his sense of justice. That was back in 1978. It is now the 21st century and Mario is now Chief Inspector for Criminal Matters of the Federal Police of Brazil. When the bishop is killed very publicly as he arrives in the remote town of Cascatas do Pontal to consecrate a new church, Mario is sent out to find the killer. Mario finds himself in a community with an ongoing and escalating situation between the landless peasants and wealthy landowners who hold uncultivated land. The state police leader is corrupt and complicit in some of the illegal actions. As the murders begin to pile up, Mario and his team are always one step behind the killers, and he finds that he isn't the only one to take action into his own hands. With social commentary, a sense of the role of religion in the community, and a feel of the wild west, this mystery has lots of violence and action. An interesting beginning to the series. I found myself asking about the nature of violence and revenge, about the ineffectiveness of standard police methods, and about the ongoing social unrest. Lots to think about.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Kathryn Nelligan

    Amazing This book has mood and character development. Well done. What a loss to readers that he is gone. I would not have known of him if not for an Amazon recommendation

  22. 5 out of 5

    Kristen

    In Leighton Gage's Brazilian mystery debut, Blood of the Wicked, we were introduced to Mario Silva, the lead detective of the police force. Homeless peasants confronted the owners of their vast estates painted the scene in Cascatas do Pontal, Brazil. A bishop was flown in by helicopter to consecrate a new church and then was assassinated in cold blood. The pope called the Brazilian president, when Silva was dispatched to investigate the grisly scene with his nephew, Hector Costa, who was also a In Leighton Gage's Brazilian mystery debut, Blood of the Wicked, we were introduced to Mario Silva, the lead detective of the police force. Homeless peasants confronted the owners of their vast estates painted the scene in Cascatas do Pontal, Brazil. A bishop was flown in by helicopter to consecrate a new church and then was assassinated in cold blood. The pope called the Brazilian president, when Silva was dispatched to investigate the grisly scene with his nephew, Hector Costa, who was also a policeman. Together while they search for clues in the bishop's murder, they battle the state police, corrupted lawyers, and preying criminals on the streets, along with the church and a slew of other people to solve this shocking cold-blooded murder, when old secrets eked itself out in this disturbing investigation to find out who was the culprit.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Kirque

    Uncomfortable truths are more easily published when in the form of "detective" or "crime" labels, or even "sci fi". Are the many topics (high level systemic corruption - church and state, brutal land wars etc) Gage has crammed into this book exaggerated for prurient blood lust sake and drive up the sales ? Wish it were so. If you don't know the socio-economic and political history of South America since say the 70s forward, you might think that. But it's so terribly "true". I was impressed that Uncomfortable truths are more easily published when in the form of "detective" or "crime" labels, or even "sci fi". Are the many topics (high level systemic corruption - church and state, brutal land wars etc) Gage has crammed into this book exaggerated for prurient blood lust sake and drive up the sales ? Wish it were so. If you don't know the socio-economic and political history of South America since say the 70s forward, you might think that. But it's so terribly "true". I was impressed that it was actually not a bad read as a "detective" novel. I'm more curious at the dearth of bio info on the author. Hmmm, Mr. Gage, just exactly how do you come to know so much and what interesting places you have visited "just for travel" at such pivotal times (as reported on your own website).........

  24. 4 out of 5

    Claire

    I read these books out of order: this is the first one Leighton Gage wrote, followed by Buried Strangers. This story filled in some of the background of the characters that I met in the second book. I think Mr. Gage hit his stride in the second book--this first one was filled with a few graphic scenes that didn't sit well with me, and detracted from the overall plot, which I thought was otherwise fantastic. Mr. Gage's books aren't just mass produced paperback mysteries, but are almost like comme I read these books out of order: this is the first one Leighton Gage wrote, followed by Buried Strangers. This story filled in some of the background of the characters that I met in the second book. I think Mr. Gage hit his stride in the second book--this first one was filled with a few graphic scenes that didn't sit well with me, and detracted from the overall plot, which I thought was otherwise fantastic. Mr. Gage's books aren't just mass produced paperback mysteries, but are almost like commentaries or exposés. He uses the murder investigation to expose dark corners of Brazil and it's system, and comment on very real issues and problems it faces. His characters are completely created and sympathetic, but so unobtrusive in the story that it's as if you're standing there watching the events unfold, rather than reading about it through someone else's eyes. Well done.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Matt

    Finally, a good book!!!! I picked this one up based on a recommendation from a local mystery bookstore and I was so glad I read it. Set in modern day Brazil, this mystery starts with the murder of a high ranking bishop and dives into landownership issues in Brazil. This topic may not sound like the most fascinating, but the idea of crooked cops, vengeful priests and two detectives (uncle and nephew) each who had a father who was murdered was an entertaining read. Gage's writing style is a little Finally, a good book!!!! I picked this one up based on a recommendation from a local mystery bookstore and I was so glad I read it. Set in modern day Brazil, this mystery starts with the murder of a high ranking bishop and dives into landownership issues in Brazil. This topic may not sound like the most fascinating, but the idea of crooked cops, vengeful priests and two detectives (uncle and nephew) each who had a father who was murdered was an entertaining read. Gage's writing style is a little stiff, but this is a police procedural novel written in a third person perspective. I would recommend this for fans of Michael Connelly who like their heroes a little morally ambiguous, the violence ramped up, and the locale seedy and exotic.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Karmen

    Mystery novel set in current day Brazil. The story takes Chief Inspector Mario Silva (city of Sao Paolo) to investigate the death of Dom Felipe Antunes, a Catholic bishop, in Cascatas do Pontal (state of Sao Paolo). An inspector who has had the misfortune of having several violent run-ins with criminals in his family. The book delves into the extreme divide between the have and have not. The landowners who bribe politicians and judges to avoid loosing unused land to the laborers. The have not who Mystery novel set in current day Brazil. The story takes Chief Inspector Mario Silva (city of Sao Paolo) to investigate the death of Dom Felipe Antunes, a Catholic bishop, in Cascatas do Pontal (state of Sao Paolo). An inspector who has had the misfortune of having several violent run-ins with criminals in his family. The book delves into the extreme divide between the have and have not. The landowners who bribe politicians and judges to avoid loosing unused land to the laborers. The have not who often live without running water and electricity. The death of the bishop follows the deaths of a labor protester and his family. The book is depressing but the writing is riveting and it had me following the plot to the very surprising end.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Jay Fromkin

    We're used to crime novels involving police corruption in big-city America, Russia, and the UK. The setting of Blood of the Wicked is Brazil. I imagine that most of us who've never been know the iconic images of Brazil - the beaches, Sugar Loaf, Christ of the Andes, carnival. Not in this novel of powerful landowners, powerless peasants, corrupt state police, liberation theologists, disposable street kids, ambitious media stars, the frail and the wicked. And, yes, honest federal cops, one with hi We're used to crime novels involving police corruption in big-city America, Russia, and the UK. The setting of Blood of the Wicked is Brazil. I imagine that most of us who've never been know the iconic images of Brazil - the beaches, Sugar Loaf, Christ of the Andes, carnival. Not in this novel of powerful landowners, powerless peasants, corrupt state police, liberation theologists, disposable street kids, ambitious media stars, the frail and the wicked. And, yes, honest federal cops, one with his own dark secrets. The sights, smells, oppressive heat, the fear, the class distinctions, are vivid in this truly enjoyable, very suspenseful novel. I truly enjoyed it and recommend it to people who like smart police procedurals in locales more exotic than, oh, Minneapolis.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Lucinda

    Blood of the Wicked (2007) introduces Mario Silva, chief inspector for criminal matters of the federal police of Brazil, dispatched to a remote town in the interior to investigate the shooting of a bishop. Silva and his assistants find themselves in the middle of a confrontation between the landless peasants and the powerful owners of vast estates. The corrupt local state police force is more frightening than the criminals and the local judge has no interest in justice. Pressured by his boss to Blood of the Wicked (2007) introduces Mario Silva, chief inspector for criminal matters of the federal police of Brazil, dispatched to a remote town in the interior to investigate the shooting of a bishop. Silva and his assistants find themselves in the middle of a confrontation between the landless peasants and the powerful owners of vast estates. The corrupt local state police force is more frightening than the criminals and the local judge has no interest in justice. Pressured by his boss to solve the case quickly without offending any of the wealthy landowners, Silva and his team have to convince the oppressed to speak out against the powerful. Leighton Gage page at SYKM

  29. 5 out of 5

    Anna

    An amazingly mature and beautiful debut novel. You'll get a taste and scents of Brazil, of the parts the tourists never see, while meeting chief inspector Silva and his nephew. It has all the ingredients I love in a crime book: interesting and somehow exotic yet familiar location you get to feel and know, robust characters who set the pace for the story, enough action, lots of detail, and a perfect pace. I'll definitely be reading the rest of the series as soon as I get a chance. Interesting, no An amazingly mature and beautiful debut novel. You'll get a taste and scents of Brazil, of the parts the tourists never see, while meeting chief inspector Silva and his nephew. It has all the ingredients I love in a crime book: interesting and somehow exotic yet familiar location you get to feel and know, robust characters who set the pace for the story, enough action, lots of detail, and a perfect pace. I'll definitely be reading the rest of the series as soon as I get a chance. Interesting, not black and white characters who all have their histories, motives, and aspirations. It's rare to get all these details in a perfect blend. The only regret I have is that I didn't get to know Leighton Gage better before he died earlier this year.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Erik

    Great opening book to what I suspect will be a very good series. I read a lot about Brazil in graduate school and Gage touches on a theme that I have thought about a bit since - why does Brazil, with a top 10 world economy, still have such a sharp economic divide? This theme is the backdrop of the novel. As a book, this book succeeds within the genre. It is very graphic (he rivals Caryl Ferey for vivid brutality) and well plotted. There is also a strong sense of place to it, which is the whole re Great opening book to what I suspect will be a very good series. I read a lot about Brazil in graduate school and Gage touches on a theme that I have thought about a bit since - why does Brazil, with a top 10 world economy, still have such a sharp economic divide? This theme is the backdrop of the novel. As a book, this book succeeds within the genre. It is very graphic (he rivals Caryl Ferey for vivid brutality) and well plotted. There is also a strong sense of place to it, which is the whole reason I read international crime fiction. I like Silva and his moral ambiguity and sense of justice...it isn't neat, but it is human.

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