Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Leighton Gage's Legacy Novel: The Ways of Evil Men

I am doing something I ordinarily would never do.  Posting a piece here that I have already posted on another blog.  When you read this, you will understand why.  Leighton Gage was a very dear friend, an extraordinarily generous colleague, and a truly splendid writer.  His last work (words it pains me to write) launched yesterday.  His friends are doing everything we can to promote it.  The Ways of Evil Men is about the plight of Brazilian indians who are mysteriously dying.  Leighton's stories all bring out injustices in modern-day Brazil, but without ever preaching or distracting the reader from a suspenseful story.  You will love his work.  Buy his book.  And please help us spread the word by sharing this post.  Thank you for your help.  Leighton deserves it.

Annamaria Alfieri 

There are cultures where the people believe that when a person dies, his soul becomes a star in the sky.  I was tempted to say “primitive cultures,” but I thought better of it.  “Primitive” in such a context sounds almost pejorative.  But of all the things I have heard or been taught about what happens to a soul after the person dies, imagining it turning into a star is the loveliest, the most comforting, the most inspiring.

This past year we lost our beloved Leighton, but he left behind a book that arrives tomorrow.  And it comes with a star.

I am sure the book will earn many stars from readers, but the one I have in mind is the one The Ways of Evil Men earned from Publisher’s Weekly.  Their starred review, a prize not given lightly, said: "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."

The publisher’s description of the story is pure Leighton:
“Thirty-nine natives have recently dropped dead of mysterious causes. Given the tense relationship between the Awana tribe and the white townsfolk nearby, Jade Calmon, Pará's sole government-sponsored advocate for the native population, immediately suspects foul play and takes the two remaining Awana—a father and his eight-year-old son—into her custody. But when the father is discovered holding a bloody machete next to the body of a village big-shot, just before Silva's arrival, the plot thickens. Why would a peaceful man who doesn't believe in alcohol turn into a drunken killer.”

This coming June and July, the world’s eyes will be on Brazil when the World Cup competition takes place there.  Between now and then, what I hope for is that Leighton’s legacy book will be widely read and that the star of his talent will shine even more brightly than ever before.


  1. I'd read a lot about him and the tributes the last months, so I am familiar with how highly people held him in esteem. You are lucky to have had him as your friend in that precious time. tjs

  2. Thelma, just to give you a tiny taste of Leighton's voice and the sense of place he can convey, here is the first paragraph of The Ways of Evil Men: “Sunrise is a brief affair in the rainforests of Pará. No more than a hundred heartbeats divide night from day and it is within those hundred heartbeats that a hunter must seize his chance. Before the count begins, he is unable to detect his prey. By the time it ends, his prey will surely have detected him.”

    I started reading it last evening and I had to force myself to get some sleep.

    If you need more encouragement, Jeff Siger's review is here:

  3. Annamaria, thanks for posting this. It's great that the book is coming out just as the world is focusing on the World Cup. I think Americans forget what a huge event the World Cup is all around the globe. I only met Leighton Gage once. Larry Robins, a local bookseller, and Deen Kogan used to host Sunday brunches with mystery writers. It was a fabulous way to meet people.
    I'll get the book and pass this post onto others.

    1. Thank you, Steph. Leighton's buddies are in touch with his wife Eide who is doing her bit, too. I truly appreciate your pitching in to pass the word. Regarding the difficulties with the comments box, I no longer try to comment from a mobile device. it is just too frustrating. Google has a lot to answer for this regard.

  4. I had such a hard time with the comment box I forgot to sign "Steph"