torsdag den 22. juli 2010

Leighton Gage, Blood of the Wicked (2007)


This Brazilian crime novel is the first in the Chief Inspector Mario Silva series.

Already from the first page I enjoyed the language and setting of this one. We are in Brazil, in the town Cascatas do Pontal, where bishop Dom Felipe Antunes has just arrived by helicopter to consecrate the new church. A large crowd is waiting for him, including a group of local landless peasants, demonstrating against the authorities which are very unwilling to adhere to the law that farmland which is not cultivated should be distributed to the landless.

When the bishop is assasinated during the ceremony, Chief Inspector Mario Silva is ordered to go to the place and solve the case immediately to prevent negative attention from the press. Some of the first theories are that the assassin has hit the bishop instead of a landowner, or that it is related to liberation theology, the idea that the church should fight for equality on this earth.

Mario Silva joined the police force when his father was killed and his mother raped during a robbery several years ago. Though he is not necessarily averse to tough methods, he has not forgotten his ideal of fighting crime as we see when the story turns into a battle between Silva of the Federal Police and the corrupt, local cops. And just for once in a crime novel, we see that journalists are not only obstacles but can actually work for good causes.

The book offers a fine crime plot, but also a glimpse of Brazil behind the facade; a depressing place of social injustice and inequality, marred by crime, police brutality and corruption. To quote Leighton Gage´s postscript:

“The wealthiest 10 percent of the population enjoy more than 50 percent of the national income. Fifty-four million Brazilians live below the poverty line. A minuscule fraction of 1 percent of the population owns half the arable land. Twenty-five million agricultural workers survive on two dollars a day.”

A very exciting read, but I must admit that the book did not exactly make me want to go there myself! It was an excellent choice for my 2010 Global Reading Challenge # 9, however.

I bought the book myself.

Kerrie´s review

Cathy´s review

Norman´s review

R.T´s review


Leighton Gage, Blood of the Wicked (2007)

Denne brasilianske krimi er den første i inspektør Mario Silva-serien. Den er ikke oversat til dansk, men forfatteren har lige solgt serien til Finland, så måske en dag ...

Jeg nød sproget og miljøet lige fra starten. Vi befinder os i Brasilien, i byen Cascatas do Pontal, hvor biskop Dom Felipe Antunes lige er ankommet med helikopter for at indvi byens nye kirke. En stor folkemængde venter på ham, blandt andet en gruppe jordløse jordarbejdere, som demonstrerer mod de myndigheder, som ikke er særligt villige til at overholde loven om at udyrket landbrugsjord skal fordeles til de jordløse.

Da biskoppen bliver snigmyrdet under ceremonien, bliver inspektør Mario Silva beordret til stedet for at løse sagen øjeblikkelig for at forebygge negativ presse. Nogle af de første teorier om mordet er, at snigskytten var ude efter en jordejer, eller at sagen har med frigørelsesteologi at gøre (tanken at kirken burde kæmpe for social lighed her på jorden).

Mario Silva blev politimand da hans far blev dræbt og hans mor voldtaget under et røveri mange år tidligere. Selv om han ikke nødvendigvis er modstander af barske metoder, har han ikke glemt sine idealer om at bekæmpe kriminalitet, som vi ser, da historien udvikler sig til en kamp mellem Silva fra det føderale politi og de korrupte, lokale betjente. Og for en gangs skyld en krimi, hvor journalister ikke kun står i vejen for politiets arbejde, men arbejder aktivt for at få sandheden frem.

Bogen byder på et udmærket krimiplot, men også et indblik i Brasilien bag facaden: et deprimerende land med uretfærdighed og social ulighed, skæmmet af kriminalitet, politibrutalitet og korruption. Et citat fra Leighton Gages efterskrift:

“De rigeste 10 procent af befolkningen sidder på mere end 50 procent af landets indtægter. 54 millioner brasilianere lever under fattigdomsgrænsen. En minimal gruppe på 1 procent af befolkningen ejer halvdelen af landbrugsjorden. 25 millioner landarbejdere overlever på én dollar om dagen.”

Spændende læsning, men jeg må indrømme, at bogen ikke ligefrem gav mig lyst til at rejse til Sydamerika. Men den var et fint valg til min 2010 Global Reading Challenge # 9, og jeg har selv købt den.

11 kommentarer:

Margot Kinberg sagde ...

Dorte - Thanks for this fine review. Brazil is a lovely country in terms of its physical beauty. But there really is so much social injustice and corruption there that I don't blame you for not being eager to visit. When I was there, I was struck, too, by the rampant sexism; not something I would want to live with...

Uriah Robinson sagde ...

Dorte, I also reviewed this book at:
http://camberwell-crime.blogspot.com/2008/09/nuts-about-brazil-blood-of-wicked.html

And the rest of this really great series.

Dorte H sagde ...

Margot: oh, I am glad you got away in one piece!

Norman: I knew you must have, but when I googled Leighton Gage and Crimescraps, I got so many hits I gave up finding it myself. Thanks for the link which I have added immediately!

Jose Ignacio Escribano sagde ...

Dorte, nice review. Only one point of disagreement. I love Brazil and I wish to go there every once in a while. I lived two years in Sao Paulo and did quite some travelling around.

R. T. sagde ...

Dorte, you might be interested in another perspective. Here is my review, which appears at BookLoons:

http://www.bookloons.com/cgi-bin/Review.asp?bookid=10649

Uriah Robinson sagde ...

Thanks Dorte. I love those Leighton Gage books. I am reading The Woman from Bratislava at the moment and it is a very interesting and honest book. I still have the rose tinted view of Denmark's wartime record told to me by my parents.

Dorte H sagde ...

Certainly, R.T.
I am glad you also liked it.

Norman: don´t tell anyone, but there are also some aspects of the war I am proud of - though what I hear mostly around me is how dreadfully late we chose (the right) side.

Dorte H sagde ...

Jose: of course I realize that Brazil is not only crime and poverty. :)
But Leighton´s book left a strong impression of the backsides of society.

Jose Ignacio Escribano sagde ...

I know what you mean Dorte.

Beth F sagde ...

Great review and thanks for the added information about Brazil. I spent a summer doing research in very southern Peru and the huge gap between rich and poor and the true poverty was heartbreaking. That was in about 1980. I would like to think that conditions improved, but probably not.

The book itself looks like a good one to add my ever-growing mystery wish list.

Dorte H sagde ...

Beth: this is one of those books where the environment and background are very important so I thought I would make it clear what I saw as Leighton´s motivation for writing it.