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.
© Peter Rozovsky 2011