I am a huge fan of David Hewson, especially his Nic Costa Italian crime series. These novels are always brimming with great characters, beautifully described Italian settings and a sprinkling of history – a combination I particularly enjoy. 2010 saw the release of the 8th installment to the Nic Costa series, The Blue Demon (or City of Fear in the US) and I would be excited regardless but given how I felt about The Garden of Evil I was very excited to read this review:
Hewson’s eighth novel starring Rome police sovrintendente Nic Costa returns to the rich themes that drove The Garden of Evil (2008): the commingling of sensuality and perverted idealism. In Garden, the subject was Caravaggio; here it is the Etruscans, whose hedonistic, life-affirming civilization was crushed by the Romans. […] –Bill Ott from Booklist
Still not convinced? Have a look at what Publishers’ Weekly had to say:
A threatened terrorist attack during a G8 conference spells trouble both personal and professional for sovrintendente Nic Costa in Hewson’s assured eighth novel to feature the Roman police detective (after Dante’s Numbers). Italian president Dario Sordi, a former friend of Costa’s late father, asks Costa to look into the re-emergence of the Blue Demon, a strange terrorist group fascinated with Etruscan civilization, which is linked to past and present-day murders of bland civil servants and an imminent strike against the conference delegates. As Costa and his team of investigators examine the trails of evidence more closely, what they find does not match the official facts and reveals uneasy connections to the government and other agents that may point to a larger conspiracy. Well-drawn characters, a brisk pace, and some unexpected plot twists provide a satisfying read for the political thriller fan.
David Hewson talks about his novel The Blue Demon:
As always I try to blend real Italian history into a modern fictional tale. Part of the story concerns the tragically limited legacy of the Etruscan nation, the predecessors of Imperial Rome who saw their language and culture effectively destroyed when they were defeated by the predecessors of Caesar. While most of the story takes place in Rome there is a brief detour into the Maremma where the vivid and occasionally shocking tombs of the Etruscans have been excavated (and there is a real life Blue Demon, not that he’s easily seen).
The story also embraces more modern history, that of the tragic ‘Years of Lead’ when Italy was gripped by domestic terrorism from both left and right. The true nature of these outrages is now largely known. Their real-life provenance may come as a shock to those unfamiliar with recent Italian history which is why I provide a detailed author’s note at the end of the book. Truth sometimes really is stranger than fiction.
I also wanted to delve a little into Costa’s family background. His father died in the first book of the series, A Season for the Dead. He always struck me as a very interesting character, and I know a number of readers felt the same way. So in this book, through the character of Dario Sordi, we learn more about him and begin to understand something of his fate, and how his own personality shaped that of his son.
But these are subterranean currents in what I hope is a fast-moving and exciting story, a tale of intrigue and political assassination of the cruellest kind. It’s no coincidence that Sordi reveals to Costa in the book that a gift he gave his late father comprised the two books Robert Graves wrote, I, Claudius and Claudius the God, about the dangers of life in the Imperial court of Rome two thousand years ago. I write about history not for history’s sake, but to try to point up how little human beings have changed over the millennia. Sordi’s fondness for the books finds him reading them towards the story’s climax, and this is no accident.
I have to get my hands on this book! Have you read it? Let us know what you thought of it.