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Books 75-76: The Seventh Sacrament and The Garden of Evil by David Hewson

Book 75: The Seventh Sacrament (Nic Costa 05) .
Author: David Hewson, 2007.
Genre: Crime Thriller. Police Procedural. Ancient Religion.
Other Details: Hardback. 419 pages.

One of the delights of David Hewson's crime fiction is his skilful interweaving of history, art and religion into the plots. In the fifth in this series Hewson references the ancient Roman religion of Mithraism. The novel moves between the present day and events 14 years previously leading up to the disappearance of 7-year old Alessio Bramante, the son of Rome’s most famous archaeologists, Giorgio Bramante.

Alessio is never found and a group of Bramante's students were suspected of being involved though never charged. Instead, it is his father who was sent to jail for his actions against one of the suspects. It was an early case for Nic Costa's boss, Leo Falcone, and one that continues to haunt him. In the present day in a shrine known as the Little Museum of Purgatory, a tee-shirt belonging to Alessio begins to show fresh bloodstains. No one can understand how the marks have appeared behind the glass. Soon Falcone and his team are involved in solving a series of violent crimes linked to the disappearance.

Again this was an intelligent, well-paced crime thriller. I am really enjoying this series and seeing Nic, who was very green behind the ears in Book 1, gain more experience and maturity.

Book 76: The Garden of Evil (Nic Costa 06) .
Author: David Hewson, 2008.
Genre: Crime Thriller. Police Procedural. Art History.
Other Details: Hardback. 438 pages.

In a deserted artist’s studio in the heart of Rome, detectives discover a scene of shocking brutality: two bodies, freshly killed. Looming over them is a painting that bears all the hallmarks of a Caravaggio: its canvas depicting a violent tableau of beauty and depravity. As the forensic unit begins its work, uncovering even more bodies and evidence, a suspect returns to the scene and Nic Costa is drawn into a frantic chase through the streets of Rome. A violent confrontation ensues with devastating results.

While Falcone, Costa and their colleagues are certain of the identities of those responsible for these murders, as well as a series of violent sexual crimes, they are protected behind a wall of privilege, power and wealth. Thus, begins a game of cat and mouse as Costa, who has long been an admirer of Caravaggio's art, works with an art expert to authenticate the painting and unravel a series of cryptic messages contained in it that will uncover a 400-year old conspiracy.

While I've enjoyed all of the Nic Costa books to date, this has been my favourite possibly because of the blending of art and history with emphasis upon the the life and art of Caravaggio into the plot. It also features a baddie whom I would have happily stepped into the pages and throttled myself. I really wanted him to get his comeuppance.
Tags: art, crime fiction, police drama, sexual violence
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