Saturday, March 2, 2013

PERFECT HATRED by Leighton Gage

In Leighton Gage’s Perfect Hatred, a psychopath stalks Brazilian Chief Inspector Mario Silva.

Meanwhile, Silva and his team investigate two crimes--the murder of the Paraná province’s candidate for governor and the radical-Islamic bombing at the American Consulate in Sao Paula.

As always, Gage tells the story in his crystal clear writing style. And the story involves great violence.

The evil in this story has two main sources. First is the corruption of power and wealth. This book portrays twistedly corrupt government officials. Many of them are not just on the take. They support violence and condone murder. The book’s main villain is a psychopathic rich man looking for horrible revenge.

The second source of evil is misguided zeal. At one point, Silva tells his friend Jaco, “Excessive zeal, even when it’s rooted in a desire to do good, can have terrible consequences.”

We all know of people in many different religions who have viciously murdered others in the name of God. Perfect Hatred has some of these kinds of people.

Even Mario Silva twists the rules. He hopes he twists them it in less harmful, more benevolent, ways than many twist them.  But . . .

For Gage, twisting the rules in less harmful ways seems to be the definition of practical morality. In this corrupt setting, morality is breaking the rules for a moral reason.

In other words, Silva, too, walks to the edge of the abyss. It would take just one short step to go over. I have to wonder if Silva won’t sometime take that step if he hasn’t already. (I haven’t read all the books in the series.)

These books seem so real. They are hard to read. I don’t want to believe the world is as evil as Gage portrays it. But in some situations, it surely is.

For me, Gage’s writing style is the saving grace in the Mario Silva books. If the books weren’t so well-written, I might find their violence gratuitous. As it is, I just see them as the portrayal of a certain section of reality. And, I’m sure, like other readers, I grasp the few threads of hope Gage gives me.

I don’t know if I can say that I “enjoy” these books. They weren’t meant to be “enjoyed” in the usual sense. But I find them honest and clearly written. That is enough for me.

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