BLOOD OF THE WICKED is the first book in the Chief Inspector Mario Silva series by Leighton Gage. I’d never heard of the series before stumbling upon a reference to it in a Goodreads group. I was trying to see if I was the only one writing a mystery series set in the Americas and a fellow mystery lover had listed it in a thread. In addition to discovering the Mario Silva series, I also discovered that besides myself, Leighton Gage, and Jerry Last, there aren’t many writing mysteries set in the Americas for the English-speaking audience.
Goodreads didn’t steer me wrong. Silva is an enigmatic protagonist with a disturbing but understandable backstory. I liked the way Gage wove in the backstory but didn’t try and force-fit it into the plot. The story starts as a whodunit murder mystery that Silva and his federal police team has to solve but they quickly find out that there are underlying problems in the smallish town where the murder occurred. Local civil authority is totally corrupt, however, and resent the intrusion by Silva and his small team of federales.
The prize in this book is the absolute authenticity. From the descriptions of the locations to the issues that create much of the drama to the characters who are so truly Brazilian, you’ll be surprised at the end that the book wasn’t in Portuguese. Gage’s style comes right at you, nothing flowery or extraneous. Good plotting, pacing and characters. But there is violence and gore and the disregard for human life that hemisphere-watchers read about in the newspapers or see on Blog del Narco. I would have liked more of Silva’s personal life; he’s not as well-rounded as he might have been. But overall this is a book written with grit, talent and an insider’s view of Brazil. If you like mysteries, this is a series to investigate.