When a young woman turns up dead in a peat bog near the banks of the River Tiber, Teresa, a maverick pathologist, thinks she’s got the victim of an ancient Roman ritual on her hands. She’s wrong. Leo Falcone, the chief inspector, knows this case is recent history and the horror is still very much alive.
So begins an investigation that will take the police deep into the dark underworld of modern day Rome’s most disturbing and sinister secrets. Nic Costa is trying to stay off the drink. Gianni Peroni used to work vice until he was caught in one of his own department’s stings. Emilio Neri, the local mafia boss, can’t trust his own son and Vergil Wallis, the American mobster, is refusing to talk. Meanwhile, someone is trying very hard to kill the pathologist. And now another beautiful young woman has gone missing …
In his second Nic Costa novel Hewson actually tries to spin a true mystery. Unlike in his first where he simply gave up, here the identity of the culprit is withheld until the end. That didn’t stop me from cottoning on to it pretty quick and having a solid theory by the halfway point in the book. I was wrong about the motive but not about the identity.
Unfortunately, that’s the good news. I was busy rolling my eyes at the character assassination passed on as character development. Teresa Lupo is the star here but she’s thrown under the buss and put to jump through some irrational hoops for the sake of plot progression. Had it been handled right, she would’ve had a legitimate reason for her unconventional behaviour after the events of the first book, but Hewson was too busy focusing on the Bacchus cult rituals and orgies.
Nic Costa plays a secondary role in a book series named after him but his boss, Falcone, gets a few layers added to him. Not that I didn’t appreciate those layers and shadows, but it just made the women in the book look even more unrealistic to me.
I have the third book of the series, but unless it significantly improves on the quality I’m probably going to break up with Hewson and his books.