Thursday, August 8, 2013

Blood of the Wicked: Leighton Gage

I have stated often at this blog that 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. I suppose that could correspond to the FBI and local police authorities in the US, but the Federal Police don't seem to have jurisdiction over the state in this book. 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.

Please see a detailed review of this book by Bill Selnes at Mysteries and More from Saskatchewan. There are some interesting comments from the author on this post.

The author of this book, Leighton Gage, died at the age of 71 in late July. There is a tribute post at the Soho Press website. Gage's wife is Brazilian and they spent part of each year living in Brazil. Blood of the Wicked is the first of the Mario Silva series; there have been five other books published. In January 2014, the seventh book, The Ways of Evil Men, will be published.
The Ways of Evil Men
The Ways of Evil Men

21 comments:

  1. This sounds great TracyK - I'll definitely be getting this one, thanks very much, including the links to info about the author as he is completely new to me. Thanks.

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    1. Sergio, I am glad it appeals to you. Hope you like it.

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  2. Brazil is a new locale for me. Will search out these books. Thanks!

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    1. Peggy, that is a large part of the attraction for me, reading about South America which I know little about.

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  3. Tracy, nice review and post - this one is now on my radar. Interesting to see that you "coped" with the level of violence, are your boundaries being pushed outwards?

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    1. Thanks, Col. I have asked myself the same question, why do some books with violence bother me more than others? No good answer to that. But, yes, over the years I have found that I can deal with more violence in books.

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  4. Hey great review Tracy. I think I will start with one of his later books then when I get to his books. I read the author's comments at Bill's blog and like you said they were insightful/interesting especially where he mentions the violence going down in later books and recommended The Vine in the Blood as not being gore ridden. Violence in books don't usually bother me versus seeing it on TV/Film (which I can't watch). Heck, I read Karin Slaughter and Chelsea Cain who can write 'em with the best of them. Whoops, sorry for going off topic there.

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    1. Thank you, Keishon. Those comments at Bill's post are very helpful. No problem going off topic, and you are not really going off topic anyway. I have read one Karin Slaughter and have more of her books to read. I thought she would be too violent and/or scary for me but I definitely enjoyed the first one. I have not tried Chelsea Cain.

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    2. Chelsea Cain writes thrillers. Her books are good reads. Not the very best out there but decent beach reads. I think the violence in her books are one of the draws to her books because it is so ridiculously graphic. She writes urgency really well tho and most of her characters are damaged. The first book in case you might be interested is Heartsick. I've read them all. I said I would quit reading her because her characters trajectory doesn't look good but for some reason her books still draw my attention.

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    3. Thanks for that info, Keishon. I will give one of her books a try someday. I could easily pick up a couple at a booksale for a decent price. I have a low tolerance for scary situations but I won't ever know til I try one.

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  5. Tracy - This is a terrific review. I'm so glad you enjoy this series. As you say, a solid police procedural premise and Gage did the Brazilian setting so very well. Thanks for the reminder.

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    1. Thanks, Margot. I want to read more in the series but don't know where I will find the time. You know that problem.

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  6. I can never quite explain why the violence in some books is something I can live wuh while in other books it makes me stop reading but like you I managed to cope with the level of violence here primarily because it is depicting something that seems realistic...it's not bloody just for the sake of it.

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    1. Same here, Bernadette, I tried to analyze my reactions to violence in different books and couldn't rationalize it.

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  7. Tracy, thanks for the review. The scene with the Brazilian federal and state police sounds a lot like what we have in India except here the federal police are often directed by the central (federal) government to take the case away from the state police and investigate it without fear or favour. I won't be surprised if I find parallels between the two.

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    1. Prashant, that is interesting about the police in India. You are probably right about finding similarities.

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  8. I haven't read any of these books but I'm keen to do so. Thanks for the review.

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    1. Sarah, I don't know why I waited so long to read this, other than the old "too many books" excuse, but I am glad I waited until after Bill at Mysteries and More from Saskatchewan reviewed it... so that I was prepared for all the violence.

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  9. I'm just catching up on my blog reading after vacation, and your review is making me want to move Gage's book up my TBR list. The discussion about what violence bothers you the most in books is interesting because I haven't really figured out what's the key for me. One thing that helps is if the characters are horrified as much as I am, but that's the only thing I can come up with.

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    1. Rebecca, I know that torture and characters being in a situation that I fear are two elements that bother me most, but even with those my reaction is not consistent. Nowadays, I just try new authors even if the books have elements I usually avoid (which includes humor) because there are always exceptions, always surprises.

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  10. Hello, this blog is just what I ve been looking for. I need to accomplish some research, and your post has most likely saved me countless hours at the library.

    The wicked

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