The book opens with a flourish. Dom Filpe Antunes, the Bishop of Presidente Vargas, makes a triumphant arrival by helicopter at Cascatas do Pontal, a rural town in the state of
to celebrate a new church being consecrated. As he steps forward to greet his
people a bullet wound appears on his chest and then a second shot takes off
part of his head. Sao Paulo
With the Pope calling the President of Brazil there is great urgency to solve the murder. Silva, though a member of the Federal Police, is immediately dispatched with his nephew, Hector Costa, to assist the local state police in solving the crime. Colonel Emerson Ferraz does not want help and barely deigns to spend 5 minutes providing basic information to Torres.
Silva is familiar with Cacatas because Aurelio Azevedo, a local leader in the Landless Workers’ League, together with his wife and two children have been brutally killed a few months earlier outside the town.
On arriving in Cacatas the investigation is expanded as Orlando Muniz Junior, the dissolute son of a huge estate owner has disappeared.
is a brutal land for the rich and the poor. The conflict between the great
estate owners and the landless poor is escalating as the book begins. With over
1,500 of the poor killed it is verging on civil war in the interior. Brazil
Amidst a rising tension between the landless masses and the privileged elite, Silva seeks information on who would want the bishop dead. Could believers in liberation theology want the conservative bishop gone?
Silva and Costa are men of integrity in a legal system filled with the dishonest. Justice is most often found at the end of a gun. Between corrupt police and judges there is little chance of honest verdicts.
The excerpt from Psalms 58:10 to open the book is most apt:
The righteous shall rejoice when he seeth the vengeance: He shall wash his feet in the blood of the wicked.
Vigilante justice is practised by all. With all Brazilian men claiming the right to be God there is the predictable consequence of escalating vendettas.
They would be well advised to read the next verse of the Psalm:
So that a man shall say, verily there is a reward for the righteous: verily he is a God that judgeth in the earth.
It is God, not man, who is to make judgment upon and take vengeance on the wicked.
Gage is uncompromising. It is not a book for those who dislike blood. I will try to read another in the series as I liked the characters but I hope the body count diminishes in later books in the series. When the death toll exceeded two dozen in Blood of the Wicked it was hard for me to think of the book as a mystery. (Feb. 10/13)