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.
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.