I first met Leighton Gage when we were debuting as part of the inaugural First Thrills gang – ITW’s cyber crèche for the wide-eyed, wet-eared newbie authors who have crawled over broken glass to dip their toes in the wild rapids of traditional publishing. Of course, unless you’re very lucky, becoming a debut author means you’re already a hardened veteran of the life of hard knocks — and Leighton and I are no exceptions.
This month marks the appearance of PERFECT HATRED, the sixth in his Chief Inspector Mario Silva series. His work has garnered favorable mentions in THE NEW YORK TIMES, a lengthy article of praise in THE WALL STREET JOURNAL and starred reviews from PUBLISHER’S WEEKLY, BOOKLIST and LIBRARY JOURNAL.
All of his stories are set in Brazil, which brings me to my first question:
Leighton, why Brazil?
I’m a Brazil nut. And how could I not be? My wife is Brazilian. We have two Brazilian daughters and five Brazilian grandchildren. I spent more than thirty years in the country.
Nice for you. What makes you think the country holds interest for the folks who buy most of our books? I’m talking about North Americans and Europeans.
It’s gotten to the point, Grant, where it has to. By next year, Brazil’s economy will be larger than that of the next seven countries in South America combined – and larger than that of only four other countries in the world.
Larger than France? The UK?
Italy and India, too. Larger than all of them. And it’s likely to stay that way.
What makes you think so?
Brazil is independent in terms of petroleum, natural gas, uranium ore and is a world leader in biofuels. The Amazon River alone pumps out twenty percent of the world’s fresh water. The country is larger than the United States’ “lower forty-eight” and arable from north to south and from east to west. It’s got the world’s largest fleet of helicopters and private jets outside of the U.S. It sends satellites into space, and it’ll probably be the next permanent member of the UN Security Council. I could go on and on, but I think you get the idea.
Impressive. And yet, many people still think of Brazil as a poor country.
They’re wrong. It’s a rich country – with a lot of poor people. Brazil’s problem isn’t the production of wealth, it’s the distribution of wealth. It’s a place of too many “have nots” and too few “haves”.
A recipe for crime?
I can see you licking your chops. Crime writer, aren’t you? Well, mate, you’re right. One statistic says it all: more cops were killed, last year, in the city of São Paulo than in all of the U.S., Canada and Great Britain combined.
So you don’t lack inspiration for your work?
Nope. I get it every day of the week – out of my daily newspaper.
Tell us something about your protagonist.
Mario Silva is a Brazilian federal cop. You never know what he’s going to get stuck into next. It could be the genocide of an Indian tribe, or the theft of human organs, or gun-running, or the sexual exploitation of minors, or land grabs on the part of the wealthy. You name it, Silva fights it. And, since he has a national mandate, he gets to travel all over the country.
And your readers get to travel with him.
Correct. In PERFECT HATRED, for example, I’ll be taking them to São Paulo, the largest city in the southern hemisphere, to Brasilia, the national capital, and to the great waterfalls bordering Paraguay and Argentina. The region, by the way, is called the Tri-Border-Area, and is home to one of the largest Muslim communities in all of South America.
As in militant Muslims?
Big time. Al Qaeda, Hamas, Hizballah, they’re all there. Reports of a visit to the region by bin Laden remain unconfirmed, but Khalid Sheikh Mohammad was there for sure. That’s a documented fact.
So PERFECT HATRED is about terrorism?
Only in part. Other threads are the assassination of a politician and Silva’s re-encounter with an old enemy, a guy who’s out to kill him.
Where can readers go to get a look inside?
I always recommend the independent mystery bookstores. We readers have to take care of those guys. They perform a real service. But, if you’re not lucky enough to live near one, Barnes and Noble has, I’m told, brought-in quite a few of the hard covers.
All the online booksellers. Good places to check out an excerpt.
Not until the fall. But the audio books are available now. And I generally get good distribution in libraries. So, if you’re a library patron, the time to reserve the book is now.
Thanks Leighton. Good luck with PERFECT HATRED.
And continued good luck to you, Grant. I loved ANGEL WITH A BULLET. Do you think Silva would get along with Dixie Flynn?
They would certainly have some interesting stories to share.
Leighton Gage wrties the Chief Inspector Mario Silva Series, crime novels set in Brazil – the country in which he lives and works. He is a regular contributor to MURDER IS EVERYWHERE, a blog he shares with six other well-known authors of international crime novels.
To learn more about Leighton, please visit his website.