Friday, November 4, 2011

Two Book Reviews

I reviewed these two books in June for Suspense Magazine.


“The Fallen Angel” by David Hewson:

This ninth Nic Costa book follows closely on the heels of “City of Fear.” Nic's present adventure takes the reader deep into Rome, not only into the complex family life of the man, Gabriel, who has apparently plunged to his death from a faulty scaffold, but deep into the ancient Cenci family and the mythology that surrounds that fateful clan.
Three days into his August holiday, Nic comes upon a young English girl, Mina Gabriel, bending over her father’s dead form. The similarities to Beatrice Cenci, a tragic Roman figure, are striking. As are the parallels between the Gabriel family and the Cenci family. To begin with, the death happened on Via Beatrice Cenci, where the family has been staying. Something about the accident, about the way Mina looks at him and about the way her brother disappears after an enigmatic statement, ‘She's safe now,’ compels Nic to investigate, even thought it’s August and, as everyone reminds him, he’s on holiday.
So is almost everyone else at the Questura, the police department where Nic works. This makes investigation a little more difficult. The fact that the other police don’t at first think the death is suspicious gives Nic more problems. Why was Mr. Gabriel, an intelligent, popular, respected academic, reduced to living in this dilapidated building in the ghetto? Is the answer in the family’s tangled history or in further links to the Cenci history? Mina and her mother are obviously holding something back, but nothing will make them reveal what it is.
An ancient organization, The Brotherhood of the Owls, with links to Galileo, may hold some clues. But then, again, it may just add to the confusion.
Meanwhile, an attraction to Agata Graziano—a beautiful woman who has given up the vocation of nun—is tugging at Nic. Will the memory of his deceased wife let him pursue whatever might become of a relationship with her?
It was great fun to delve into Roman history and a modern mystery with Nic Costa.
                                         
Reviewed by Kaye George, Author of “Choke”, for Suspense Magazine

“Revenger” by Rory Clements:

This is a tale of altered history, using John Shakespeare, the brother of Williams, as the sleuth. William even makes a brief appearance and plays a role. The first in this series was "Martyr" and introduced Shakespeare as an "intelligencer" for Her Majesty, the Queen of England, Elizabeth I.
As the second book opens, John has retired from a palace and political intrigue to serve as headmaster of the Margaret Woode School for Poor Boys. His first main problem is an instructor who is too harsh with the students, but whom he is stuck with. The instructor was foisted upon him by the Protestant Bishop as an agent to keep track that no Roman Catholic leanings creep into the curriculum. His second worry is the Roman Catholic faith of his beloved wife, Catherine. She refuses to keep it hidden, a dangerous position in England at this time. John worries for his wife and his young daughter.
Queen Elizabeth, to whom John is loyal, has enemies. England has defeated the Spanish Armada, but Spain is regrouping and King Philip remains a threat. There may also be a plot to arrange a marriage between Lady Arabella Stuart, generally acknowledged to be next in line to the English throne, to Robert Devereux, the Earl of Essex. This would be a powerful alliance and could topple the queen.
Some rough characters convince John to get back into the intrigue game, some working for Sir Robert Cecil, some for Essex. John isn't quite sure who is on the side of the queen and who is against her. When John's wife quits speaking to him after she narrowly misses a trip to the Tower with the Catholic priest she follows, his troubles are compounded. Somehow, his family is entangled in a plot to overthrow his monarch and he must use his wits to keep this from happening.
The book is quite long for a mystery, 448 pages, but there's excitement and conspiracy on almost every page to keep the reader's interest.

Reviewed by Kaye George, Author of “Choke”, for Suspense Magazine

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