Friday, November 19, 2010

Every Bitter Thing by Leighton Gage

I've been a fan of Leighton Gage's Chief Inspector Mario Silva books since the first one, Blood of the Wicked.  The books focus on Brazil's politics and crime, bringing to light details that most of us don't know.  While the books have been graphic at times, the tone has been lightened by the black humor used in the conversations between the police.  These are outstanding police procedurals, but the violence may have put some readers off in the past.  The cover art may look grim on the latest book, Every Bitter Thing, however Gage has toned down the violence, and placed the emphasis on the police investigation.   Readers of police procedurals don't have to be afraid to try the new crime novel.

Chief Inspector Mario Silva of the Federal Police is called in when the son of Venezuela's Foreign Minister is found murdered in his apartment in Brasilia.  Although the local police want to arrest the man's lover, Silva wants to check the national crime database.  It doesn't take long to discover that other people have been murdered in the same way, shot in the abdomen, and brutally beaten.  The killings have occurred all over Brasil.  Except for one victim, they seem to have only one thing in common.  All the victims were passengers on TAB Flight 8101 from Miami to São Paulo, Brazil. 

Although the crimes are still brutal in Every Bitter Thing, the emphasis is placed on the investigation of the murders.  Gage beautifully captures the relationships between the police officers, with Silva's dry humor.  He isn't afraid to poke fun at one of his officers, and he shares a dislike of showboating police officers, and those out for political gain.  Silva and his team take their jobs seriously, but they find their own ways to deal with crooked cops, slimy politicians, and criminals whose punishments seem too light.  Pay close attention to the conversations so as not to miss the irony and black humor.  Despite the dark nature of the crimes, there is wonderful humor in this book, including a very funny scene involving dachshunds. 

Leighton Gage is another one of Soho Press' authors who writes outstanding, descriptive crime novels that bring a country vividly to life.  Brazil is portrayed with all its political corruption and crime, although Gage also shows the beauty of the country.   Every Bitter Thing gives us another glimpse at a beautiful country, suffering from poverty, violence, and corruption, and a small group of men who struggle against terrible odds to try to maintain a semblance of order.

Leighton Gage's website is and he blogs regularly at

Every Bitter Thing by Leighton Gage.  Soho Press, ©2010. ISBN 9781569478455 (hardcover), 388p.

FTC Full Disclosure - The publisher sent me a copy of the book, in hopes I would review it.


kathy d. said...

I have wanted to read Leighton Gage's books for quite awhile.

I asked at "Crime Scraps," a wonderful mystery website, about which I should start with, given that I enjoy reading books with a political slant.

Gage himself responded and said I should start with "Blood of the Wicked."

I'm a bit hesitant due to the violence, but I can skip parts and speedread through others, which I did with the Stieg Larsson trilogy (the first two books, anyway) and liked them a lot in spite of that.

What do you think?

Lesa said...

I agree with Leighton, kathy. Start with Blood of the Wicked. It introduces the characters, and gives you a taste of the country. They did get more violent, until this one. I think he backed off some because of his reader requests, but I may be wrong. It seems as if I read that somewhere. (Who knows? I read so much, maybe I'm dreaming that.)

I do dthe same thing, skip parts and speedread through others at times. But, I didn't need to do that with this latest book.

I still think you need to "meet" his characters through the first book, though.

Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

I'm a chicken of a reader (no, I'm thinking I'll never make it as a thriller writer!) so I'll skim the violent parts and focus on the investigation...which is my favorite part of mysteries!

Naomi Johnson said...

I really enjoyed this book, and it sent me back to read the others in the series. Gage has created a fine ensemble of characters in these books. I didn't find the violence offputting, but I'm learning that I'm not too squeamish.

Anonymous said...

Leighton Gage's has written a great series with the setting in Brazil. He continues to write strong and interesting mystery novels that allows both the characters and the readers grow with each other. There are areas of Brazil that are very violent and Leighton does his best to portray a realistic picture of the culture. He is an important voice.

Tina said...

I'm so glad to hear he's backed off the violence a bit. I loved his previous books, but did have to take a deep breath at times. His characters are so engaging and real. His descriptions of the country make me want to book a flight today, so I'm off to try to find this one quickly.

Once again, thanks for the review.

Lesa said...


Naomi is right. Gage has a wonderful cast of characters, and their interplay is enjoyable to watch. If you can skip the graphic parts, you might enjoy the investigations. Remember, though, I have warned you about the graphic details in the earlier books.

Lesa said...


Now, I don't think you'll mind the violence at all. (grin) It is a terrific cast of characters. I hope you enjoy teh earlier books!

Lesa said...


I totally agree with you. He is an important voice, telling us about the current state of Brazil. And, I have no quibble with his books. I just know I have as many cozy readers here as others, so I want them to know about the violent elements.

Lesa said...

Thank you, Tina. I think you're going to like this one even more than the previous books. Since he backed off on the violence a little, Gage has increased the interplay between the characters. I think you're going to be very pleased with the latest book.

kathy d. said...

Okay, you have convinced me, as has Gage himself, at "Crime Scraps."

So I'll put on hold "Blood of the Wicked," at the library and start there, and just speedread or skim the violent parts.

I agree that the character development and investigation are my favorite parts of books.

Thanks, Lesa, as always, and everyone else, for your insights, all in the pursuit of good reading and learning.

Lesa said...

Thanks, kathy. Now, I need to check out Crime Scraps. It sounds interesting. I appreciate it. And, I like your final comment, "All in the pursuit of good reading and learning."

kathy d. said...

And, I guess you know about "Petrona," and "Reactions to Reading," which are wonderful websites and blogs.

The book reviews and publishing news are superb, as are the blog conversations, about global mystery fiction.

Lesa said...


I didn't know about those blogs. Thanks for passing them on!

kathy d. said...

Oh, it's too bad, but now you can add these two websites/blogs to your lists.

Bernadette writes at Reactions to Reading. She does great book reviews, critiques different types of mystery fiction, reviews book, ebook and publishing news.

She also has a list of authors at the right and links to her reviews of the books by them which she has read.

Maxine Clarke maintains Petrona. She also writes reviews, publishing news, new releases in Britain, translated crime fiction, etc.

Her blog, as well as Bernadettes, is great.

Lesa said...

Thanks, kathy. If not before then, I should have time this coming weekend to check out these blogs. Thank you!