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Blood of the Wicked Hardcover – January 1, 2008
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From Publishers Weekly
At the start of Gage's bloody debut, Chief Insp. Mario Silva is asked by his boss, the director of the Brazilian Federal Police, to solve the murder of Bishop Dom Felipe Antunes, who was assassinated at a church consecration in the remote Brazilian town of Cascatas. However, tensions between landowners and the Landless Workers' League embroil Silva in local politics when he must put equal resources into solving the disappearance of a local landowner's son, Orlando Muniz Junior. Priestly pedophilia, kidnappings and more murders punctuate the escalation of the conflict between landowners and reformers, while Silva also grapples with his personal demons, having tracked down and killed both his father's and brother-in-law's murderers. By the end of this brutal novel, it's hard to care who killed whom. It's also a miracle that Silva, who seems increasingly ineffectual, survives the mayhem. This ultraviolent mystery is not for the faint of heart. (Jan.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
"Irresistible" - The New York Times
South America's Kurt Wallander - Booklist
--Toronto Globe and Mail
--The Boston Globe
Fascinating, complex and riveting
--Florida Sun Sentinel
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Chief Inspector Mario Silva discovers who killed the bishop and why, but he has to wade through a lot of gruesome murders before he does. An interesting story if you don't mind all the blood and gore, which is what people seem to like these days. I plan on reading more of Gage's stories featuring Mario Silva.
We are in Brazil, but certainly not at the Carnaval do Rio, for levity has no place here. In this thriller with many victims no one is really innocent; in some locales, innocence can be a dangerous luxury. Who killed a bishop and left a whole trail of bodies only contours the plot. The core lies in the social injustice of a system that tortures and, while doing so, is absurdly applying self-torture as well --that can only lead to the victim's revolt whose response will emulate its torturer's.
The Brazilian landowners who kill for more land while depriving the landless of their due are reminiscent of feudalism, as well as of the omnipotence of an overfed capitalism that exploits the workers and sends them home with hardly enough income to live with dignity. Countries like the US have smoothed out the system and basically legalized theft. Powers that be will deny this. But when a majority of workers produce the greatest amount of work and few at the top collect most of the benefits of that work, what do you call it?
The decor that Gage chooses to depict is in appearance cruder, rougher; yet based on similar principles. The wealthy buy the complicity of the police (this could never happen here; of course not) who are as greedy and power hungry as their payers. The massacres, body cutting and rapes authored by aforementioned police are not only unendurable because of the cruelty involved, but because the reader senses that such cruelty does not only occur four thousand miles away. Injustice, no matter how it manifests itself, is always a form of cruelty. Leaving the poor in a state where we know there will find no way out, what do we call that? ( In a crushing scene Gage depicts that poverty, where a room contains a bed for a whole family, a black and white TV, and little less. And outside the rickety door, a fifty-fifty live or die possibility, with gangs at every corner.)
It's just in-your-face with Gage's depiction of Brazilian landless workers who fight the owners of huge fazendas. The reader will side with the rebels, not necessarily with their ruthlessness, even if she sees some justification there. The whole panorama --or lack thereof-- is an open wound. The victims lay deep within it; and the powerful think they can play with it. But all are blinded by blood, including Father Angelo (note his name here), one of Gage's tragic figures and in my view his most successful character.
As effective as this novel is --sustained here by Gage's incredibly strong prose-- the novel could have benefited from one or two more developed characters. I must admit that in the huge tableau the author proposes this might have been a nearly impossible task. If the symmetry of the chapters contributes to the solidity of the plot, it occasionally slows it to the point of near immobility. Had Gage decided to let some chapters run in a more natural way, less evenly, with less control on his part, the problems mentioned above might have been resolved. Still, this is one important book, and Gage is an author who cannot be ignored.
I started reading this book on a whim because my kids are finally asleep and I wanted to relax with a good book. It was a great choice. This book keeps me on my seat. I don't know much about Brazil, and this book introduce me to a Brazil beyond bikini-clad bodies. I find the tidbits about Brazil very entertaining.
This is a crime book, and it's written well. Sure the body count is high, but it's part of the story. Some innocents die; that's real-life too. A book should entertain, and this book does it very well.
I hope it makes it to the movies. I got the same excitement reading this book as I did reading Hostage by Robert Crais. It's got that same can't-peel-my-eyes-off-the-pages quality.
This is not really a mystery, except for the main subplot which was sort of obvious.
I won't be reading more in the series.
I'm hoping he'll develop more personality as the series moves along, but in the meantime you have a plot full of strong characters to compel you from page to page, as well the drama of Brazilian society to amaze and distress you. They're all here: sadistic landowners, heroic activists, desperate street kids, corrupt officials and foolhardy journalists.
The successful reader of this book will need a strong stomach for violence.