I recently read ‘The Garden of Evil’ by David Hewson which is the sixth novel in his Nic Costa Italian Crime series. I thoroughly enjoyed it as Hewson (a British author) continues to captivate with his in depth knowledge of architecture, Italian cities and art. ‘The Garden of Evil’ won best mystery of 2008 in the American Library Association’s annual genre awards.
This particular story deals with Roman aristocracy, a secret cult called The Ekstasists and Caravaggio’s art and life. The novel is a well crafted story whose crimes are original and thought provoking. We begin with murder in an art studio only to find that there are many more victims sealed within the walls of the studio, a discovery that is made only after Costa suffers a great loss and he is thrown into an investigation so bewildering you will barely be able to guess at the ending.
Within this novel Hewson gives life to the structure and layout of Rome as well as keen insight into the past and present of this cosmopolitan city which forms the setting for the story. He describes clearly the mentality of the aristocracy and shows what these people feel themselves entitled to do. Hewson’s characters are full and dynamic, he leaves you with people you feel you know after only the first few pages have been turned, he weaves the components of aristocracy, art and crime together so well you can’t help but feel as if he had told you a true story – Hewson is the king of realistic fiction.
This book not only leaves you guessing until the very end but it also leaves you to contemplate the depth of human nature and how life and people are not as uniform as stereotypes would have us believe. Hewson has a gift – the ability to show you more than one point of view, convincingly, as well as reminding us that often what seems straight forward generally is not. You can’t help but learn something from his novels and if you’re unsure of what exactly was fact and what was fiction, you can turn to the author’s note and he clarifies between truth and invention.
David Hewson provides great reading and here are the rest of the titles from the Nic Costa Italian Crime series; 1) A Season for the Dead, 2) The Villa of Mysteries, 3) The Sacred Cut, 4) The Lizard’s Bite, 5) The Seventh Sacrament, 6) The Garden of Evil and 7) Dante’s Numbers. I recommend this series to any and all who appreciate; a well crafted and original crime novel, great style and characterisation as well as intriguing facts and details from a world past and present.