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Authors: Leighton Gage

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The Ways of Evil Men

BOOK: The Ways of Evil Men
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ALSO BY LEIGHTON GAGE

Blood of the Wicked
Buried Strangers
Dying Gasp
Every Bitter Thing
A Vine in the Blood
Perfect Hatred

Copyright © 2014 by Leighton Gage

Published by
Soho Press, Inc.
853 Broadway
New York, NY 10003

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Gage, Leighton.
The ways of evil men / Leighton Gage.
p. cm
ISBN 978-1-61695-272-3
eISBN 978-1-61695-273-0
1. Silva, Mario (Fictitious character)—Fiction. 2. Police—Brazil—Fiction.
3. Ava-Canoeiro Indians—Fiction. 4. Indigenous peoples—Crimes against—Fiction. 5. Brazil—Fiction. I. Title.
PS3607.A3575W39 2014
813′.6—dc23 2013019793

v3.1

This one is for my grandchildren
Jonathan, Fraukje, Fardou, Anner,
Victoria–and any more to come
.

Contents

Enter not into the path of the wicked, and go not in the way of evil men.

—Proverbs 4:14

Key Characters

Alex Sanches
—A Federal Police agent in Belem.

Alexandra Santos
—The housekeeper of Jade Calmon, FUNAI agent in Azevedo.

Amanda Neto
—The wife of Osvaldo Neto.

Amati
—An Indian of the Awana tribe.

Arnaldo Nunes
—An agent of Brazil’s Federal Police and Silva’s partner.

Atuba
—Raoni’s grandfather.

Barbosa, Estevan
—The head of the Federal Police’s field office in Belem.

Ana, “Crazy”
—A prostitute.

Bonetti, Cesar
—A wealthy landowner.

Borges, Fernando
—The head of the local police in Azevedo.

Castori, Father Carlo
—Parish priest in Azevedo, formerly a missionary.

Cunha, Paulo
—Azevedo’s wealthiest businessman.

Frade, José
—A wealthy landowner.

Fred Vaz
—A fishing guide.

Fromes, Davi
—The former IBAMA agent in Azevedo, now retired.

Gilda Caropreso
—An assistant medical examiner and Hector’s fiancée.

Gonçalves, Haraldo, aka “Babyface”
—An agent of Brazil’s Federal Police.

Hector Costa
—Gonçalves’s boss, in charge of the São Paulo field office.

Jade Calmon
—A FUNAI agent working in Azevedo

Kassab, Renato
—Azevedo’s only lawyer.

Lana Nogueira
—The niece of Nelson Sampaio, a friend of Jade and Maura.

Leon Prado
—Jade’s boss in Brasilia.

Lisboa, Roberto
—A wealthy landowner.

Maria Bonetti
—The wife of Cesar Bonetti.

Maura Mandel
—A journalist and Jade Calmon’s best friend.

Mauricio Carvalho
—Maura’s editor and boss in São Paulo.

Max Gallo
—A young pilot whose father owns an air charter service in Azevedo.

Nataniel Eder
—The Belem bureau chief of Maura’s newspaper.

Nonato, Raul
—The IBAMA agent in Azevedo.

Osvaldo Neto
—Husband of Amanda and owner of Azevedo’s Grand Hotel.

Otto Cosmos
—A truck driver.

Pandolfo, Toni
—Lisboa’s foreman and a dangerous gunman.

Patricia Toledo
—The wife of Hugo Toledo, mayor of Azevedo.

Pinto, Doctor Antonio
—A doctor and Azevedo’s part-time medical examiner.

Raoni
—An Indian boy of eight, member of the Awana tribe. Amati’s son.

Rita Cunha
—The wife of Paulo Cunha, Azevedo’s leading businessman.

Sampaio, Nelson
—The Director of Brazil’s Federal Police. Silva’s boss.

Silva, Mario
—A Chief Inspector of the Brazilian Federal Police.

Sonia Frade
—Wife of José Frade.

Tinga
—Raoni’s best friend.

Toledo, Hugo
—A wealthy landowner and the mayor of Azevedo.

Torres, Omar
—A wealthy landowner.

Welinton Mendes
—A prospector.

Yara
—Raoni’s grandmother.

Chapter One

S
UNRISE 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.

The boy timed it perfectly. The dart flew true. A big male
muriqui
leaned to one side and tumbled out of the tree. The others screamed in alarm. The boughs began to heave, as if struck by a strong wind, and before Raoni could lower his blowgun, the remaining members of the monkey tribe were gone.

T
HE WOOLY
spider monkey, golden in color and almost a third of Raoni’s weight, was a heavy load for a little boy, but he was a hunter now. Right and duty dictated that he carry it.

Amati helped his son hoist the creature onto his narrow shoulders. To make sure it didn’t fall, he made what he called a hunter’s necklace, binding its long arms to its almost equally-long legs by a length of vine.

The hunt had taken them far. The sun was already approaching its zenith when they waded through the cold water of the stream, stepped onto the well-worn path that led from the fishing-place to the heart of their village, and heard the sound that chilled their hearts: the squabbling of King Vultures, those great and ugly birds, half the size of a man, that feed exclusively on carrion.

* * *

When Raoni’s father was a boy, the tribe had numbered more than a hundred, but that was before a white man’s disease had reduced them by half. In the years that followed, one girl after another had been born. Girls, however, didn’t stay. They married and moved on. It was the way of the Awana, the way of all the tribes. If the spirits saw fit to give them boys, the tribe grew; if girls were their lot, the tribe shrank. And if it shrank too much, it died.

The Awana were doomed, they all knew it, but for the end to have come so suddenly was a horrible and unexpected blow.

Yara was lying in front of their hut, little Tota wrapped in her arms, while vultures pecked out their eyes.

Yara’s husband, Raoni’s grandfather, Atuba, had fallen across the fire, felled in his tracks as if by a poison dart. His midriff was charred and blackened. The smell of his flesh permeated the air.

The tribe’s
pajé
lay face-down below a post from which a joint of roast meat was suspended. The tools of his rituals were spread about him: a rattle, a string of beads, some herbs—clear signs he’d been making magic.

But his magic had failed.

The father and his son went from corpse to corpse, kneeling by each. Signs of life, there were none.

They came to the body of Raoni’s closest friend, Tinga. The little boy’s favorite possession, his bow, was tightly clutched in his hand—as if he couldn’t bear to abandon it, as if he planned to bring it with him into the afterworld.

Raoni was overcome with fury. He picked up a stone and flung it at one of the vultures. Then another. And another. But the birds were swift and wary. He didn’t hit a single one, nor could he dissuade them. They simply jumped aside and settled, greedily, upon another corpse.

The anger passed as quickly as it had come, replaced by a sense of loss and an emptiness that weakened his legs to the point where he could no longer stand. When they collapsed under him, he threw himself full-length upon the pounded red earth and cried.

Chapter Two

J
ADE
C
ALMON PARKED HER
jeep, uncapped her canteen, and took a mouthful of water. It tasted metallic and was far too warm, but she swallowed it anyway. One did not drink for pleasure in the rainforest. One drank for survival. Constant hydration was a necessity.

The perspiration drenching Jade’s skin had washed away a good deal of her insect repellent. She dried her face and forearms and smeared on more of the oily and foul-smelling fluid. Then she returned the little flask to the pocket of her bush shirt, hung the wet towel over the seat to dry, and retrieved her knapsack. Inside were her PLB and GPS, both cushioned to protect them from the jogs and jolts of the journey.

The PLB, or personal locator beacon, was a transmitter that sent out a signal that could be picked up by satellites and aircraft, and homed-in upon by search teams.

“You call us before you go into the jungle,” her boss had told her when he’d given it to her. “Then you call again when you come out. It’s like making a flight plan. If you get into trouble, push the button. Then sit tight and wait to be rescued.”

Sit tight? In the middle of the biggest rainforest in the world? Easy to say. Not so easy to do.

She glanced back at the road.

How ironic
, she thought.
The damned loggers who scarred the land with their bulldozers actually did the tribespeople some good
. Without that road, she would have had to cut her way through sixty-two kilometers of dense undergrowth to reach
this spot. Even though the rains had turned much of it to mud and even though new vegetation was quickly erasing the scars of the white men’s predations, she could still cover the entire distance from Azevedo to this, the end point, in a little less than two hours.

And, because of that, and that alone, she was able to look in on the tribe twice a month instead of six times a year.

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