Thursday, September 08, 2011

David Hewson's Roman stories

I've posted often about authors who set novels in countries other than their own. What do they miss because of their outsider status? What do they gain?

David Hewson sets books in contemporary Rome but, in The Fallen Angels, ninth and newest in his series about the young Roman police officer Nic Costa, he makes use of the historical period that has most shaped the way the city looks today: the Baroque era.

Hewson chose for his taking-off point the hair-raising tale of Beatrice Cenci, whose life, legend, and horrific death offer enough material for a hundred painters, a million tear-jerkers, and scores of Romantic dreamers. I worried for a while that Hewson would content himself with simple, pat parallels between Beatrice's case in 1599, and that of young Mina Gabriel, whose family lives in a reduced state on a street named for the Cenci.  

But Hewson is up to more than that.   Costa, his colleagues, and receptive readers will learn salutary lessons about the dangers and the necessity of stories. And those readers just might pick up some tips about good places to eat around the Campo dei Fiori and what to order when they get there.
***
David Hewson will be part of the “NEVER LET ME GO: PASSPORT TO MURDER” panel, with your humble blogkeeper as moderator, Saturday, Sept. 17, 1 p.m., at Bouchercon 2011.

© Peter Rozovsky 2011

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6 Comments:

Blogger seana said...

This is so funny. I recently read Hewson's fine story 'The Circle' in The Mammoth Book of Best British Mysteries 8 and remembering that we had carried his novels, resolved to get them back in and check them out. They just arrived today. I put them on the shelf again, but it will be awhile before I can read them myself.

September 08, 2011  
Anonymous Linkmeister said...

Have you read any of Lindsey Davis's Marcus Falco Roman mysteries? I'm on about #6 and enjoying them. They're set in 70 B.C.E., just after Vespasian became Emperor.

September 09, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Seana, Hewson has done an interesting project of writing Macbeth as a crime novel, which will appeal to me, given a Macbeth post I made some time ago.

September 09, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Linkmeister, I mentioned in passing that the Baroque era contributed more than any other to Rome's current face. Speaking of faces being built, one of Lindsey Davis's novels includes construction of what is now one of England's most famous Roman monuments (and worth a visit it it, too): Fishbourne Roman villa.

September 09, 2011  
Blogger Photographe à Dublin said...

This is good.

I thought I was a great fan of Baroque art, having been exposed to the few pieces we have in Ireland, mostly interior decoration and plasterwork by master craftsmen who arrived from Italy to make Dublin into the jewel that it became in the 18th Century.

However, a trip to Venice did make me realise that sometimes one can have too much of a good thing.

The Baroque obsession with gesture is intruiging... but can be very strange.

For lovers of historical fiction and Venice "The Floating Book" is really worth reading.

bookloons.com/cgi-bin/Review.asp?bookid=2705

Getting back to Rome, roma.andreapollett is a good site for history fans.

September 09, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Thanks. The Baroque was never my faovrite period in Italian art. Bernini's orgasmic female saints are quite a sight, though, and I love the rippling church of San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane, which Hewson mentions in at least one of his books.

September 09, 2011  

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