cover image The Fallen Angel

The Fallen Angel

David Hewson, Delacorte, $25 (368p) ISBN 978-0-385-34152-3

Near the start of Hewson's accomplished ninth novel featuring Roman detective Nic Costa (after City of Fear), an eccentric English scholar, Malise Gabriel, falls to his death from a balcony, and Nic finds the man's lovely 17-year-old daughter, Mina, kneeling over his body on the street. The neighborhoods of Rome offer satisfying texture, as does Roman history—in particular, the dramatic story of another daughter, Beatrice Cenci, who was executed centuries earlier for killing the father who molested her. Gabriel's death may be an echo of that tale, an accident, or something more complicated. Mina's wayward brother, Robert, disappears, though he may be in touch with a corrupt cop, while Mina's mother, Cecilia, is hostile to the entire investigation. The main story takes time to gain momentum, but once secrets begin to be revealed, especially about the Gabriel family, there's no stopping them. Readers will have a lot of fun peeling away the book's many layers, right down to the final, closing twist. (May)