The Ways of Evil Men (Chief Inspector Mario Silva Series #7)

The Ways of Evil Men (Chief Inspector Mario Silva Series #7)

4.6 3
by Leighton Gage

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The Awana tribe, who live in the remote Amazon jungle in the Brazilian state of Pará, have dwindled to only 41 members—and now 39 of them have dropped dead of what looks like poison. The neighboring white townsfolk don’t seem to be mourning the genocide much—in fact, the only person who seems to care at all is Jade Calmon, the official

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The Awana tribe, who live in the remote Amazon jungle in the Brazilian state of Pará, have dwindled to only 41 members—and now 39 of them have dropped dead of what looks like poison. The neighboring white townsfolk don’t seem to be mourning the genocide much—in fact, the only person who seems to care at all is Jade Calmon, the official tribal relations agent assigned to the area. She wants justice for the two survivors, a father and his 8-year-old son. But racism is deeply entrenched and no one is going to help her get to the truth.

Unfortunately, this is far from the first time the Brazilian federal police have had a tribal genocide to investigate. Chief Inspector Mario Silva and his team are sent in from Brasilia to try to solve the increasingly complex case just as a local white man is discovered murdered. Someone has done their best to frame the surviving Awana man, and the town is about to erupt.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
★ 12/02/2013
Chief Insp. Mario Silva investigates the suspicious deaths of 39 members of an indigenous tribe in the remote Brazilian state of Pará, in Gage’s riveting seventh and final police procedural (after 2013’s Perfect Hatred). When Jade Calmon, an agent with the FUNAI (the federal government’s National Indian Foundation), discovers that all but two—Amati and his eight-year-old son, Raoni—of the fast-dwindling members of the native Awana tribe have died, she immediately suspects foul play. Jade runs into myriad roadblocks trying to get local law enforcement to care about the tribal genocide. The unspoken opinion around town is “good riddance,” while squabbles begin over who can lay claim to the valuable reservation land. Jade’s calling in of a favor from a childhood friend brings in Silva and his team, who must contend not only with uncooperative and openly hostile townspeople but also another murder, this one of a prominent white citizen. The late Gage (1942–2013) weaves an engaging plot and psychologically complex characters together with a sharp-edged social commentary on the Brazilian class system; his voice will be greatly missed in the crime fiction community. Agent: Jacques de Spoelberch, J de S Associates. (Jan.)
From the Publisher
Praise for The Ways of Evil Men

"Leighton Gage died in 2013, making this fine book, it would seem, the last Silva investigation. Given plot developments that involve an orphaned native youth, the book provides a fitting if unintended resolution to the memorable Silva chronicles."
—The Wall Street Journal

"The late Gage (1942–2013) weaves an engaging plot and psychologically complex characters together with a sharp-edged social commentary on the Brazilian class system; his voice will be greatly missed in the crime fiction community."
Publishers Weekly
, STARRED Review

"A final gift from Leighton to his readers . . . His voice, his portrayal of vital fictional characters and stories, his outrage at injustices in Brazil and beyond, and his lively participation in the on-line crime fiction community will remain as his testament."
—Glenn Harper, International Noir Fiction

"A fine send-off for a compelling character."

"Gage had it all: social conscience; complex, well-drawn characters; and superb plot development. All he lacked was the gift of another dozen years of writing, to shepherd Chief Inspector Silva safely into his retirement." 
—BookPage, Top Pick in Mystery by Bruce Tierney

"Leighton Gage is one of those rare writers who can write about social issues without being pedantic. There are many facets to the issue of the indigenous peoples and their future, both in Brazil and elsewhere. Gage presents those facets within the framework of a well-written police procedural. While there is a solution to the mystery at the end, there is no pat answer to all the questions Gage presents along the way to that solution." 
P.J. Coldren, Reviewing the Evidence

"Some of the color went out of the world when Leighton Gage died, but his literary legacy is pure gold. I can't recommend his books highly enough."
Cathy Cole, Kittling Books

"Irresistible . . . It’s sad to think this is the final Mario Silva tale we’ll enjoy. If you haven’t read the previous half-dozen installments of the series, do yourself a favor and look them up, too."
Black Mask

"Gage's last offering is at once dark and light, depressing and uplifting, violent but also compassionate, a tale of dastardly, cowardly evil, but also of quiet, unrelenting heroism."
—Mystery Scene

"I suspect that Leighton put a lot of himself into the character of Mario Silva, both will be sorely missed."
—Crime Scraps Review

"There are few storytellers as gifted as Leighton Gage, and virtually none with his ability to convey messages of such societal importance in fast-paced, can’t-put-down mysteries that are not in any way preaching."
Jeff Siger, writing for the New York Journal of Books

"Highly recommended. I can only urge that readers who appreciate strongly drawn characters and a well-plotted tale not miss this wonderful, final addition to a much-loved series from a writer who will be sorely missed."
—Midwest Book Review

"This marks the end of one of Brazil's most popular procedural crime series. He [Leighton Gage] will be sorely missed by his many fans around the world."

"A most rewarding book. Recommended."
I Love a Mystery

"A fitting farewell to the inspector."
—Fort Worth Star-Telegram

"The complexity of the storyline together with several credible paths of misdirection make this one of the better books in this already very good series; sadly, it will also be the last."
—Mysterious Reviews

Praise for Leighton Gage's Mario Silva series

"No one writes the cold glint of evil in bright sunlight the way Leighton Gage does. And there's enough evil here—and heroism, too—for three lesser books."
—Timothy Hallinan, author of Crashed

"Top notch . . . controversial and entirely absorbing."
The New York Times Book Review

"A dark, violent book with characters that seethe on the page . . . Compelling writing. Readers will smell the steam and stench of the Amazon and recoil from the torture and depredation from which Gage averts his lens, barely in time."
Boston Globe

"The Silva investigations have all the step-by-step excitement of a world-class procedural series."
The Wall Street Journal

Kirkus Reviews
Sensitive cultural issues are engaged when dozens of members of an Amazon tribe are apparently poisoned. In the Brazilian rain forests of Para, Raoni, a child warrior from the Awana tribe, rages at the inexplicable deaths of countless fellow tribesmen, including his grandfather and his best friend, Tinga. Jade Calmon, who works for FUNAI, the federal government's National Indian Foundation, discovers the boy and other survivors, including Father Carlo Castori, a former missionary now serving as a parish priest in Azevedo, the closest town. This duo, along with Amati, a surviving Indian, runs through the list of possible causes and culprits and concludes that the tribe was poisoned. They bring their suspicions to Azevedo, where a septet of local honchos confers, fueled by alcohol. The next morning, the corpse of local womanizer Omar Torres is discovered as Amati stands nearby, machete in hand. Jade heatedly argues for Amati's innocence. Thus does the matter (and the murder) arrive on the desk of Chief Inspector Mario Silva of the Brazilian Federal Police (Perfect Hatred, 2013, etc.). The disreputable Torres, it happens, had countless enemies; except for Father Castori, every bigwig in Azevedo had a motive for killing Torres. With the prickly Jade breathing down his neck, Mario and his quirky team work to unravel the poisoning and solve the murder. Mario's seventh is a solid procedural with a huge cast of economically drawn characters, sharp dialogue, a vigorous pace, and a welcome twist or two.
Library Journal
When 39 of the 41 members of an Indian tribe living in the Brazilian rainforest die by poisoning, Jade Cameron, a National Indian Foundation worker, rescues the remaining man, Amati, and his young son. Then a white rancher is murdered in the nearby village, and Amati is framed for the death. The villagers lynch him in the hopes of destroying the tribe and opening the reservation to development. CI Mario Silva of the federal police is sent to investigate. As on his home turf in São Paulo, Silva finds corrupt officials, political connections, greed, racism—and more murders. The possibility of a major gold strike ups the machinations as well. VERDICT This is the seventh and final Silva investigation (the author died in July 2013). Gage knew the Brazilian locale intimately. He passionately displays the ecological problems and pervasive corruption at all levels. By contrast, Silva and his team appear abnormally honest. The solutions they find, however, are quite melodramatically portrayed, but fans of the series certainly will want to read Gage's last work.—Roland Person, formerly with Southern Illinois Univ. Lib., Carbondale

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Product Details

Soho Press, Incorporated
Publication date:
Chief Inspector Mario Silva Series, #7
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
6.30(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.20(d)

Read an Excerpt


Sunrise is a brief affair in an equatorial jungle. No more than a hundred heartbeats divide night from day in the rainforests of Pará, a hundred heartbeats in which a hunter must seize his chance. If he shoots too soon, he might miss; if he waits too long, his prey will surely detect him.
            The boy timed it perfectly. The dart flew true. A big male muriqui leaned to one side and tumbled out of the tree. The others screamed in alarm. The boughs began to heave, as if struck by a strong wind, and before Raoni could lower his blowgun, the remaining members of the monkey tribe were gone.


The muriqui, almost a third of its captor’s weight, was a heavy load for a boy of eight, but he was a hunter now. Right and duty dictated that he should carry it.
            Amati helped his son hoist the creature onto his narrow shoulders. To make sure it didn’t fall, he made what he called a hunter’s necklace, binding its hands to its feet by a length of vine.
            The hunt had taken them deep into the jungle. The sun was already approaching its zenith when they waded through the cold water of the stream and stepped onto the well-worn path that led from the fishing-place to the heart of their village.
            As they walked, they heard a sound that chilled their hearts: the squabbling of King Vultures, great birds half the height of a man that feed exclusively on carrion.       

When Raoni’s father was a boy, the tribe had numbered more than a hundred, but that was before a white man’s disease had reduced them by half. In the years that followed, one girl after another had been born, but the girls didn’t stay; they married and moved on. It was the way of the Awana, the way of all the tribes. If the spirits saw fit to give them boys, the tribe grew; if girls, the tribe shrank. If it shrank too much, it died.
            The Awana were doomed, they all knew it, but for the end to have come so suddenly was a horrible and unexpected blow.
            Yara was lying in front of their hut, little Tota wrapped in her arms, while the buzzards pecked out her eyes.
            Yara’s husband, Raoni’s grandfather, Atuba, had fallen across the fire, felled in his tracks as if by a poison dart. His midriff was charred and blackened, the smell of his flesh permeating the air.
            The tribe’s pajé, lay face down below a post from which a joint of roast meat was suspended. The tools of his rituals were spread about him: a rattle, a string of beads, some herbs—clear signs he’d been making magic.
            But his magic had failed.
            The father and his son went from corpse to corpse, kneeling by each. There were no signs of life other than the vultures.
            They came to the body of Raoni’s closest friend, Tinga. The little boy’s favorite possession, his bow, was tightly clutched in his hand—as if he couldn’t bear to abandon it, as if he planned to bring it with him into the afterworld.
            Raoni was overcome with fury. He picked up a stone and flung it at one of the vultures. Then another. And another. But the birds were swift and wary. He didn’t hit a single one, nor could he dissuade them. They simply jumped aside and went back to what they’d been eating—or settled, greedily, upon another corpse.
            The anger passed as quickly as it had come, replaced by a sense of loss and an emptiness that weakened his legs to the point where he could no longer stand. He threw himself onto the pounded red earth and cried.           

Jade Calmon parked her jeep, uncapped her canteen, and took a mouthful of water. It tasted metallic and was far too warm, but she swallowed it anyway. One did not drink for pleasure in the rainforest. Constant hydration was a physical necessity.
            The perspiration drenching her skin had washed away a good deal of her insect repellent. She dried her face and forearms and smeared on more of the oily and foul-smelling fluid. Then she returned the little flask to the pocket of her bush shirt, hung the wet towel over the seat to dry, and retrieved her knapsack. Inside were her PLB and GPS, both cushioned to protect them from the jogs and jolts of the journey.
            The PLB, or personal locator beacon, was a transmitter that sent out a signal that could be picked up by satellites and aircraft, and homed-in upon by search teams.
            “You call us before you go into the jungle,” her boss had told her when he’d given it to her. “Then you call again when you come out. It’s like making a flight plan. If you get into trouble, push the button. Then sit tight and wait to be rescued.”
Sit tight? In the middle of the biggest rainforest in the world? Easy to say. Not so easy to do.
            She glanced back at the road. How ironic, she thought. The damned loggers have actually done the Indians some good. Without that road, she would have had to cut her way through sixty-two kilometers of dense rainforest to reach this spot. Even though the rains had turned much of it to mud and the vegetation was quickly erasing the scars of bulldozers, she could still cover the entire distance from Azevedo to this, the end point, in a little less than two hours, which meant she was able to look in on the tribe twice a month instead of six times a year.
            She clipped the PLB to the belt of her khaki shorts, switched on the GPS, and punched in the coordinates of the village. Then she hoisted her knapsack to her shoulders and set off.


Someone or something stepped on a twig. It broke with a loud snap. A tapir or a man, Amati thought. Nothing else is heavy enough. He grabbed his bow.
            “Stay close,” he said to his son.
            The arrow he chose was one tipped with poison. If it was a tapir, he’d kill it for the meat. If a white man . . . well, let it not be a white man. Not after what those monsters had done.
            But the figure that emerged from the forest was neither tapir nor man. It was a woman, one he knew, but white just the same. And she was coming toward him with a smile on her face.
A smile!
            Consumed with a towering anger, Amati lowered the bow. Why should he waste poison on a creature like this? Poison was precious, time-consuming to extract. He’d kill her with his knife.

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