The above illustration, "Blowing Bubbles," has been adapted for use here by generous permission from the artist, Cyril Rolando.

January 19, 2014

THE WAYS OF EVIL MEN by Leighton Gage

The Awana tribe in the rainforest of Brazil is dying: Only 41 Awana remain, and they know they are the last of their people. A matter of years only, and there will be no more Awana. But some person or persons felt the need to hurry things along. When Amati and his eight-year-old son return from a day of hunting, they find everyone in the village dead. No wounds, no signs of violence at all, but from the youngest child to the oldest citizen, all are dead. Poisoned, perhaps, but how? Amati is convinced that the white men from the nearest town are responsible. The local representative from the government for Indian affairs, Jade Calmon, demands that the deaths be investigated, but the local police chief says that what happens on the reservation is beyond the scope of his authority. The regional delegado de polícia is far too lazy to care what happens hundreds of miles away. But Jade is a tireless crusader, and she knows someone who knows someone who pulls Federal Inspector Mario Silva and his team into investigating. It isn't long before genocide mushrooms into another murder, a lynching, a kidnapping, a missing person, domestic abuse, betrayal, and still more murder. Silva and his team have their hands full just trying to get a racist, elitist, corrupt, and fearful populace to talk to them, never mind trying to exhume bodies and collect evidence (or even make phone calls) in the remote and deadly rainforest where even the most macho of men would never dare to be caught after dark.

The town of Azevedo will perhaps remind the reader of the Old West of the United States, where the nearest law enforcement was often too far away to be of any value, where white people repeatedly stole tribal lands and Native Americans were treated as either juvenile imbeciles or dangerous lunatics. The situations in this book may also bring to mind the premise of the film, Bad Day at Black Rock, in which a stranger in town encounters suspicion and the threat of violence, though no one in town will say why the town is so full of, well, evil. Luckily for Inspector Silva, he is not alone, as Spencer Tracy was in the film. Silva has his trusted team of detectives and medical examiner to help him; he also has the albatross of a very pretty, highly ambitious journalist figuratively draped around his neck. And the determination of that journalist provides an internal threat to the security of Silva's team that he could not have foreseen.

The Mario Silva series comes to a close with this seventh book and the sad, too soon, passing of author Leighton Gage last summer. And what a terrific and complex final story he has given us, condensing into highly readable form five centuries of continuous assaults on the indigenous people of Brazil, and the environmental disasters stemming from toxic mining and the continued decimation of the rainforest.  Gage neatly outlines the vast gulf between the lives of the haves and the have nots, not to mention the bigotry and corruption of both groups, all the while maintaining both an impending sense of danger and a sharp-witted camaraderie between the members of Silva's team. It is the humor, cynical though it may be, that prevents the reader from being crushed under the weight of the evil abounding in the small town of Azevedo. That humor, plus the humanity and unpredictability of Silva, a man whose work may be the law, but whose primary interest is justice, all make for wonderful reading.


  • Series: Chief Inspector Mario Silva
  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Soho Crime (January 21, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1616952725
  • ISBN-13: 978-1616952723


  1. Bad Day at Black Rock is a favorite of mine and because of your review here I am going to download the first book in this series. Thanks, Naomi.

  2. I hope you enjoy the books as much as I, David.