The Catacomb

Brian Glanville, Author Hodder & Stoughton $22.95 (351p) ISBN 978-0-340-42327-1
Italy, with its seductively winding streets, sonorous language and Machiavellian politics, is a full-bodied character in this sophisticated thriller from the author of Along the Arno. Formerly a cool, detached Oxford historian, Tom Cunningham has been brought to the breaking point by the death of his Italian wife in a terrorist bombing near Florence. Cunningham, who has been researching the life of John Hawkwood, a 14th-century mercenary known as the ``Italianised Englishman,'' obsessively searches for his wife's killers to ask them why they see honor in the carnage they commit. The trail through London and Italy leads him to factions of the extreme left, the Red Brigades and neo-Fascists, and to a massively corrupt Italian financier who both helps and uses him. In the machinations of these modern Italians, the Oxford don sees an older, only slightly more brutal society; his own increasingly violent responses give him a better understanding of Hawkwood, who himself veered between chivalry and treachery. The pace is sometimes slow, but fine atmosphere and richly worked detail reward the reader. (Dec.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1988
Release date: 01/01/1988
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