The title of Leighton Gage's last book may be The Ways of Evil Men, but Rudyard Kipling said "The female of the species is more deadly than the male." Gage's final Mario Silva investigation brings back all the beloved team. But, this time, he includes an unusual group of powerful women. Some of those women instigate the investigation; some support Silva's work; and some support a powerful group of landowners. I may take a different view of this book than some other reviewers. I see it as a sign of Gage's respect for women.
When Amati and eight-year-old son returned to their Awana tribe in the jungle in Brazil, they found everyone else dead. Jade Calmon, the federal official from the National Indian Foundation, FUNAI, was convinced they were all poisoned, but she couldn't get anyone to take her seriously in Azevedo, the nearest town. Knowing the Big Six, white ranchers and landowners, coveted the reservation land, and the local police were in their pocket, Jade went over their heads. She contacted a couple old friends from school. It wasn't long before Chief Inspector Mario Silva and his team of Brazilian federal policemen were on the way to Azevedo, due to Jade and two school chums, a reporter and a lawyer. Before they can arrive, though, a local white man is murdered, and Amati is at the top of the suspect list for everyone in town. And, it's a town that doesn't take murder, or prejudice, lightly. And, it's a town that isn't receptive to interference or questions from anyone from the outside, police or reporters.
While Silva and his team of Arnaldo, Hector, Gilda, and Babyface investigate what has become a case of genocide, Jade's reporter friend, Maura Mandel takes her own investigation in a different direction. Silva may deal with landowners, police, and a drunken priest, but Maura finds that some of the women in town have secrets of their own.
Leighton Gage always used his crime novels to delve into the culture, crime, and evil in Brazil. His books were always fascinating. And, it was a treat to meet up with Silva and his team in each book. The Ways of Evil Men is no different, as he points out the issues of genocide against the native tribes in Brazil, as landowners coveted land, trees, and wealth. But, this final mystery from the author also shows that women can be just as devious as men, whether they're trying to save a tribe, write a story, or cover up their own sins and secrets. The late author may have called this The Ways of Evil Men. He could just as easily called it "The Ways of Devious Women".
On a personal note, I'm going to miss Leighton Gage. He was a debut novelist with a mystery set in Brazil when he had Soho Press contact me to say he'd like to appear at my library because he liked my blog. Leighton appeared at Velma Teague twice, once during a rare storm in Arizona, and once during the Chocolate Affaire. Not the best conditions either time, but he and his wife, Eide, were always gracious. It was a pleasure to host and know him. He told fascinating stories of Brazil, its crime, its beauty, its politics and corruption. Leighton was always a friend to me and Velma Teague, and he send other authors my way. I miss him, and I'm going to miss Mario Silva.
Leighton Gage's website is www.leightongage.com
The Ways of Evil Men by Leighton Gage. Soho Crime. 2014. ISBN 9781616952723 (hardcover), 352p.
FTC Full Disclosure - The publisher sent me a copy of the book, hoping I would review it.