Wednesday, January 29, 2014

The Ways of Evil Men by Leighton Gage

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

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.


Beth Hoffman said...

I'm saddened that the world has lost a wonderful storyteller and that you have lost a friend.

Hugs to you, Lesa.

Lesa said...

Thank you, Beth. I'm always sad, too, when the world loses wonderful, gifted storytellers. It's such a loss.

Naomi Johnson said...

What an excellent point you make, Lesa, about the strong women in this book. Thank you for helping me see yet another layer to this excellent story.

Lesa said...

Thanks, Naomi. I noticed it, and my guess is that Leighton was surrounded by strong women as a husband and father of daughters.

TFJ said...

I've not yet read Leighton Gage and look forward to this series, especially as you've indicated the presence of strong women.
I suspect it'll be hard to read knowing he's gone and not here to tell more stories. But I thank you, Lesa, for introducing yet another author new to me.

Lesa said...

TFJ, Here's a warning. Wonderful police procedural series. Gritty, and violent because life in Brazil is. The strong women are in this particular book. Really not very present in the other ones in the series. You can read this one without reading the others, but the series characters are wonderful.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Lesa. A very nice review.
Leighton have always been surrounded by woman. Four sister's in law, four daughters, three grand daughters and lots of female friends. He learned quite a lot from our gender. Eide Gage

Lesa said...

Thank you, Eide. As I said, Leighton is missed. And, it's nice to read that note and a confirmation from the woman who knew him best. Thank you.