My rating: 5 of 5 stars
As a teen, Rome detective Nic Costa was fascinated with the sensational story of Beatrice Cenci, a young woman who in the 16th century was executed for killing her abusive father. Now Nic, on “stay-cation” and thus off duty, witnesses the fall of Malise Gabriel from the scaffolding of his apartment, very close to Palazzo Cenci, Beatrice’s home. Nic comforts the dead man’s young daughter, Mina, and while the Questura initially believes the death was accidental, they gradually begin to suspect foul play. The press gets hold of the story, and soon all of Rome is wondering if history is repeating itself. Nic can tell that Mina knows more than she’s saying, and he sets out to find out if she’s been the victim of incest.
Just as John Connelly’s Harry Bosch has embedded his life into the heart of Los Angeles, the life of David Hewson’s Nic Costa is enmeshed with that of Rome. In The Fallen Angel, Mr. Hewson seamlessly weaves Rome’s ancient stories and locations into a taut, engrossing tale of murder and retribution. In Rome, beauty and squalor, innocence and evil, often stand side by side, a truth Nic recalls as he and Mina take a tour of the locations at which the Cenci story played itself out. The ghost of Galileo also has a role here, albeit a smaller one. At heart, The Fallen Angel is about evil, which has been continuously present in the world at least since Rome was founded.