Just as his appealing protagonist, Nic Costa, has grown and developed as a policeman, so has David Hewson grown and developed as a writer. At the start of this engaging series, Hewson introduced a group of dedicated law enforcement pros based in Rome, and with each succeeding entry, these individuals have coalesced into a team, becoming close friends along the way. Hewson’s characters are fallible human beings, and he doesn’t flinch from depicting their weaknesses and mistakes as well as their strengths and successes. Supporting characters are equally well done. Hewson’s understanding of Italian society and his knowledge of the Eternal City are prodigious. Each of these novels has approached crime and justice from a different slant. In The Garden of Evil, the author pits an arrogant, powerful, aristocratic serial killer against the Italian legal system. Along the way, he explores the nature of good and evil, the impact of grief, the bonds of friendship, and value of pain and struggle in the lives of us all. The only other writer in this genre who can match Hewson for depth is Donna Leon, who has created another Italian inspector with true humanity.
The icing on the cake in Garden is the art history and Christmas tradition that Hewson has seamlessly woven into his tale. I, for one, will never again regard a nun or a cup of cappuccino in the same way! 5 stars, highly recommended for readers who enjoy a dose of intellectual stimulation injected into their adventures.