Series debut, set in contemporary Rome, stars an idealistic detective and a Cardinal without principles.
Nic Costa is nobody’s fool. On the contrary, he’s exceptionally bright and decently educated—ask him anything you want about Caravaggio—but the things that have happened to him in and around Vatican City might well have unstuck an older and wiser gumshoe. A sudden profusion of brutally murdered bodies, beginning with the one in the Vatican Reading Room, brings him together with professor of early Christianity Sara Farnese, as elegant as she is enigmatic. He’s smitten—hard and perhaps irrevocably—not a healthy development for a young cop saddled with a high-profile case. And just who is this stunning Sara, whose past is so mysterious and whose present includes certain patterns of sexual behavior at once unbridled and strikingly joyless? Is she somehow the cause for the chilling rise in Rome’s homicide rate? And what exactly is her relationship to the disgraced Cardinal Michael Denney? Is she (gulp) his lover? At one point, Nic’s partner defines sleuthing as a combination of looking for facts and looking for lies. Nic agrees; with Sara around, there’s no shortage of the latter.
Hewson (Solstice, 1999) tends to overstuff, but likable Nic exudes series potential.