Summary and book reviews of The Garden of Evil by David Hewson

The Garden of Evil

By David Hewson

The Garden of Evil
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  • Hardcover: Jul 2008,
    480 pages.
    Paperback: Feb 2009,
    592 pages.

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Book Reviewed by:
Kim Kovacs

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Book Summary

In a deserted artist's studio in the heart of Rome, detectives stumble upon a scene of shocking brutality: two bodies, freshly killed. Looming over them is a painting that bears all the hallmarks of a Caravaggio: a brilliantly colored canvas depicting a violent tableau of beauty and depravity. . . . In David Hewson's bold new novel of suspense, this grisly discovery sends Detective Nic Costa on a desperate chase through the streets of his city. The consequences are devastating. And for Nic, the case has only just begun.

At the crime scene, detectives find a treasure trove of evidence—from fresh blood to lurid photos of dead prostitutes. For Costa, finding the killer who escaped him is intensely personal. But his prime suspect arrogantly hides in plain sight behind a fortress of money, power, and the law.

Teaming with an art expert, Costa follows clues hidden in the mysterious Caravaggio canvas. As he moves through a maze of history, he begins to make stunning connections to the present case. And each discovery brings him closer and closer to a secret buried in a priceless work of art, a conspiracy dating back four hundred years—and men who will stop at nothing to protect their own private garden of evil.

From modern forensics to the realm of the Medicis, from the force of faith to the corruption of power, The Garden of Evil is a novel steeped in Roman history—and an unforgettable experience in richly atmospheric, modern-day suspense.

Chapter One

Aldo caviglia glimpsed his reflection in the overhead mirror of the crowded 64 bus. He was not a vain man but, on the whole, he approved of what he saw. Caviglia had recently turned sixty. Four years earlier he had lost his wife. There had been a brief, lost period when drink took its toll, and with it his job in the ancient bakery in the Campo dei Fiori, just a few minutes' walk from the small apartment close to the Piazza Navona where they had lived for their entire married life. He had escaped the grip of the booze before it stole away his looks. The grief he still felt marked him only inwardly now.

Today he was wearing what he thought of as his winter Thursday uniform, a taupe woollen coat over a brown suit with a knife-edge crease running down the trousers. In his mind's eye he was the professional man he would have been in another, different life. A minor academic, a civil servant, an accountant perhaps. Someone happy with his lot, and ...

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Reviews

BookBrowse

Authors with the ability to create such vivid descriptions of time and place sometimes fall short when it comes to writing action sequences. Such is not the case with Hewson who delivers action that is both riveting and cinematic. What truly draws the reader, though, are the sections of the novel that concentrate on revelation – revelation of clues to solving the crime as well as the illumination of the principals' characters.   (Reviewed by Kim Kovacs).

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Media Reviews
Richmond Times-Dispatch

A thought-provoking blend of art history and mystery, The Garden of Evil is … a treat for readers who like their entertainment literate.

Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. You don't have to be much of a sleuth to foresee danger for Sister Agata, but that's about the only predictable element in a plot otherwise as serpentine-and suspense filled-as the ancient Roman byways through which Costa stalks his prey.

Booklist

Starred Review. Arturo Pérez-Reverte has long set the gold standard for mixing history, mystery, and modern life into literary stews of mouthwatering flavor and incredible subtlety, but it’s time to agree that Hewson now shares that position—and is on the verge of claiming it outright.

Daily Express - Peter Burton

The Garden of Evil .... is even more gripping than its predecessors. Hewson is a cunning storyteller… What follows is a deadly cat-and-mouse game during which the body count steadily rises and Roman history once again proves to be a vital component in the case .... impossible to put down.

Toronto Globe & Mail - Margaret Cannon

The Nic Costa series, set in Rome, is one of my favourites. Hewson sets his stories so firmly in place that it’s possible to go from street to piazza to alley, and almost feel the stones of the walks or touch the ancient Roman bricks. The Garden of Evil is the best book so far in the Costa series, and that’s saying a lot. But Hewson takes his plotting here a giant step further than in the usual cop/chase story.

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Beyond the Book

Caravaggio

A painting presumed to be by the 17th century painter Caravaggio is central to the plot of The Garden of Evil. The work found (which is purely fictional) is purported to be the artist's copy of an actual oil by Annibale Carracci, entitled Venus with a Satyr and Cupids.

Caravaggio is one of the most fascinating and influential artists of the early Baroque era.* He was born Michelangelo Merisi, in Milan on 8 September 1573. The family moved to the small town of Caravaggio in Lombardy in 1576, and it is from this city that he took his name. After the death of his father, a master builder, in 1584 Caravaggio was apprenticed to Simone Peterzano, a painter in Milan of the school of Titian. His apprenticeship ...

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