Sat 12 February 2011, The Times

The Fallen Angel by David Hewson

By Marcel Berlins
The poet Shelley wrote about her; she has been the subject of many films and plays, and books by eminent writers — Stendhal and Alberto Moravia among them. David Hewson has now brought the 19-year-old Beatrice Cenci, executed in 1599 for killing her nobleman father, into the realms of crime fiction. In The Fallen Angel , the real Cenci, whose moral guilt is still disputed, is disturbingly linked to the death of an impecunious English academic, Malise Gabriel, fallen — or pushed ? — from the heights of the building where he lived, on the street named after Cenci, whose father had been sent to his death in such a fall. And now Gabriel’s young daughter Mina has become obsessed with the story of Beatrice Cenci. Nic Costa, Hewson’s regular Roman cop, more sad and serious since he saw his wife murdered in front of him, delves into the secretive and complex lives of the unhappy Gabriel family, who unite in resisting his inquiries. Hewson presents an atmospheric portrait of a dark, corrupt Rome behind the jolly tourist façade, astutely mixing the historical and the present. This is the ninth in the Nic Costa series, and possibly the best.
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