I came across the Cesare Aldo books a few years ago when the author did a workshop at Granite Noir. I was also surprised to learn that I had read him before as he had written a Doctor Who book. Last year I read the first 2 books in this series City of Vengeance and The Darkest Sin.

Florence. Summer, 1538.

A night patrol finds a wealthy merchant hanged and set ablaze in the city’s main square. More than mere murder, this killing is intended to put the fear of God into Florence. Forty years earlier, puritanical monk Girolamo Savonarola was executed the same way. Does this new killing mean his fanatical disciples are reviving the monk’s regime of holy terror?

Cesare Aldo is busy hunting thieves in the Tuscan countryside, leaving Constable Carlo Strocchi to investigate the killing. When another merchant is burned alive in public, the rich start fleeing to their country estates. But the Tuscan hills can also be dangerous.

Unless Aldo and Strocchi work together, all of Florence will be consumed by an inferno of death and destruction.

I haven’t read a lot of historical fiction, crime or otherwise, so I don’t have a huge amount to compare these to, but I love the mix of history and mystery. The stories, whilst being set in the past have a very modern feel to them. Having an LGBTQ+ character as the hero adds another interesting viewpoint.

The story takes place amongst the intrigue of the Medici court in Florence and the backdrop adds something different from many other crime fiction I’ve read. I like the character of Cesare who is somewhat of a master investigator and an outcast, partly because of his sexuality and partly because of his general aloofness, but his relationship with a local Jewish Doctor brings out another side to him.

In this book Aldo has left the city due to a deal with his former friend and sometime partner Carlo Strocchi, based on Aldo’s past actions, the book starts with them apart and bad feelings, something circumstances in the book make them confront. The book does feel part of a series with the previous one and whilst I don’t think it would be essential to have read the previous 2 I think you’d get a lot more out of it.

The book moves at a good pace but there’s a lot going on and the parallel investigations from both characters show their differences and their similarities. Strocchi’s wife works as a bridge between the 2 characters due to a bond with Aldo forged in a previous book.

I had worked out one of the twists towards the end but that didn’t detract from the story and I think it was a strong story filled with twists and turns.


If you’re a crime fiction fan and looking for something a bit different and haven’t tried a historical one, this would be a great place to start. An engaging story with strong and interesting characters that barrels along nicely. The story uses the historical background to enhance the story and DV Bishop manages to create a modern feeling story that fits nicely into 16th century Italy. Another triumph after the first 2, and the only question I have now is, when’s the next one out?

Author Rating

  • overall
  • writing style
  • plot/information
  • enjoyment
Pros & Cons
  • Modern Feeling
  • Strong Story
  • Love the history
  • To get the most of it you have to have read books 1 & 2

User Reviews


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