Venice is a city full of secrets. For hundreds of years it has been the scene of scandal, intrigue and murderous rivalries. And it remains so today.
1548, Lorenzino de Medici, himself a murderer and a man few will miss, is assassinated by two hired killers.
Today, Marmaduke Godolphin, British TV historian and a man even fewer will miss, is stabbed by a stiletto blade on the exact same spot, his body dropping into the canal.
Can the story of the first murder explain the attack on Godolphin? The Carabinieri certainly think so. They recruit retired archivist Arnold Clover to unpick the mystery and to help solve the case. But the conspiracy against Godolphin runs deeper than anyone imagined.
David Hewson is a former journalist with The Times, Sunday Times and Independent. He is the author of more than twenty-five novels, including his Rome-based Nic Costa series which has been published in fifteen languages, and his Amsterdam-based series featuring detective Pieter Vos. He has also written three acclaimed adaptations of the Danish TV series, The Killing. He lives near Canterbury in Kent. @david_hewson | davidhewson.com
My thoughts: Convinced he’s found new evidence in a historical murder, ghastly academic turned TV historian Markaduke (Duke) Godolphin descends on Venice with his former students, the Gilded Circle, in tow. And promptly gets himself killed.
Carabinieri Captain Valentina Fabbri summons archivist Arnold Clover to tell her about the events leading up to the man’s death, about the Wolff Bequest, the rumours of Michelangelo’s involvement in the Medici assassinations and the life of Marmaduke Godolphin, who hired him to find the letters that supposedly prove the artist’s role.
It’s a convoluted story, involving a cast of people with good reasons to hate Duke, including his wife and son, a huge pile of rubbish at the State Archives, an American TV network, a cast of actors and the long ago real life drama of the Medici family, who never fare well outside of their city of Florence.
Lorenzino de Medici murdered his cousin, and was then himself assassinated in Venice. Either his uncle, the Pope, or Charles V, the Holy Roman Emperor, was behind it, and according to Duke, artist, sculptor and former Medici favourite, Michelangelo (yes, that Michelangelo) was heavily involved in both deaths. Or was he? The mysterious Wolff, a man no one has heard of, or met, donates his papers to the Archive in Venice after telling Duke that somewhere in there is proof.
Arnold and his friend Luca are hired to sieve through the detritus of this mystery man’s life and find them so Duke can make a triumphant return to fame and fortune.
But who is responsible for Duke’s unfortunate death? Fished from a canal dressed as the doge, stabbed in the heart with a fancy dagger. His wife, son, former acolytes, and an American TV producer were all at his party a few hours before, as were Arnold and Luca. But which one of them did for him? Valentina is convinced Arnold’s story holds the answers.
There is a lot of food and a lot of wandering around Venice (which, having done it, I recommend) while Arnold tells his story of academic rivalry, family feuds, long held grudges and murder. Valentina doesn’t seem hugely interested in the actual crime, as much as the quest for the Michelangelo letters, the mystery of Wolff and the over the top behaviour of Duke in the lead up to his death.
It’s a very dramatic carry on, Duke has spent a lot of money (most of it someone else’s) on this quest, throwing parties and buying costumes, hiring actors to recreate Lorenzino’s death, and trying it on with the young American Patty, sent to get a contract signed on proof of the scandal. Problem is, the Michelangelo letters might not be the genuine article.
Hugely fun and a really interesting take on the whodunnit, pairing a historic series of events, ones covered by real historians, with a rather entertaining and complicated fictional plot, narrated by an archivist who doesn’t really want to be there, punctuated by delicious Venetian cuisine and the stunning landscape of the canal city. More please!
*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.
1 thought on “Blog Tour: The Medici Murders – David Hewson”
Thanks for the blog tour support x
LikeLiked by 1 person