The Villa of Mysteries (Nic Costa 2) by David Hewson

the villa of mysteriesMobsters and Bacchanalian cults…

🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

When a preserved body is found in a peat bog, it looks as if the dead girl is a long-forgotten victim of a ritual killing from ancient times. But forensic examination soon proves the death is much more recent than that, leading to speculation that a cult based on the Bacchanalian mythology is active in present day Rome. And to make matters worse, another young girl has just gone missing in similar circumstances, a few days before the ancient ceremony of Liberalia, the anniversary of the first death…

Nic Costa has returned to duty following the death of his father and his recovery from the injuries he received in the first book of the series, A Season for the Dead. Nic finds he’s been paired up with Gianni Peroni, a high-flying vice cop who’s been busted back to the ranks after been caught with a prostitute. Nic is a refreshingly non-alcoholic, not particularly maverick cop – young and still a bit naïve and idealistic, but with a determined streak that leads him to take occasional risks.

David Hewson
David Hewson

This is a well written crime mystery with a complicated plot and an interesting setting. Although Nic is the nominal hero, we see the investigation from different perspectives through the eyes of several members of the police team and forensic pathologists. As well as ancient myth and legend, the story is firmly rooted in the Rome of today, with the authorities still battling to defeat the mobsters and Mafiosi that infest the city. As flu strikes, leaving the police short-handed, they are constantly diverted from the task of looking for the missing girl by a fresh outbreak of mob rivalry causing havoc throughout the city.

Overall, I found this a good read, though I felt it was a bit too long. The ending in particular was over-padded leading to a loss in tension, and there were aspects of it that took credibility almost to breaking point. But the characterisation is very good, both of the police team and the villains, and the introduction of Roman myths and legends gave it an added level of interest. I believe there are nine Costa books to date, and this one will certainly encourage me to continue with the series. Recommended.

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14 thoughts on “The Villa of Mysteries (Nic Costa 2) by David Hewson

  1. FictionFan – I do like it when police procedurals depict a team of people working together. I think that’s a real part of police investigation, and it adds authenticity to a novel. And of course, the setting of this one sounds very appealing. I know what you mean about ‘padding;’ I’m not fond of that either. But this one does sound like a good ‘un.
    Oh, and did you know that it’s snowing on your blog?? 😉

    • Yes, so far it’s shaping up to be a good series – though I’m about seven books behind!

      The snow is very…er…cool, isn’t it? My inner child is thrilled! 😉

  2. I know I’ve read one Hewson book, but I’m going to have to go away and check out what it was. I’m interested in your comment that you felt it was too long because it is my memory of feeling the same thing that lies behind the fact that I’ve never felt driven to pick up another.

    • He recently has written the books of The Killing series. I only read the first one and it was ridiculously long and so repetitive that I have no desire to read the next one. I’m afraid overpadding seems to be a recurring theme with him…

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