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Publisher's Summary

In a hidden studio in Rome, an art expert is found dead in front of one of the most beautiful paintings Nic Costa has ever seen - an unknown Caravaggio masterpiece.

But before long, tragedy will strike Nic far closer to home. The main suspect's identity is known, but he remains untouchable, protected by a fleet of lawyers and a sinister cult known as the Ekstasists.

If Costa can crack the reasons for the cult's existence, he may well stand a chance of nailing his wife's killer. But the mystery will take him right back to Caravaggio himself and the reasons he had to flee Rome, all those centuries before.

©2008 David Hewson; (P)2008 WF Howes Ltd

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  • Overall

Hewson delivers again

David Hewson writes excellent & literate mystery-detective fiction. His character, Nic Costa, is a wonderfully three-dimensional, and his descriptions of Rome definitely give one a sense of familiarity with the city's flavor & history. This book is fairly complex, and very vivid in its descriptions of horrific killings reflecting the hideous deaths of various saints. The extremely bizarre practices of the group calling itself the Ekstasists pushes the envelope of believable perverted mental aberration --or maybe I'm naive. I don't recall a lot of hilarity in Hewson's books, but there is a scene near the end involving numerous nuns which had me cackling out loud at the grocery store.
The reader Saul Reichlin does a fine job of translating the book to audio form, with good pacing and voice, and succeeds in giving a very good performance while managing to not 'get in the way' of the book itself, meaning I was able to forget about the act of his reading and just take in the book.

21 of 21 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Dan
  • Fayetteville, AR, United States
  • 10-22-08

Worth the effort

I am a fan of David Hewson and have read most of his mystery/thrillers set in Italy. Once again, Hewson gives us several heroes although Dectective Nic Costa is regularly cited as the main character. Hewson gives almost equal billing to Leo the Chief Inspector, Gionni, Nic's partner and Theresa, the medical examiner/pathologist. Hewson again is able to place his stories and his characters in familiar Italian locations and cleverly tie his stories back to an earlier time. In this book, he makes Caravaggio almost a main character morphing the contemporary story back to Caravaggio's life in the early 17th Century.

The plot line strains even the most devoted reader's ability to suspend belief but remember this is a mystery/thriller and you get what you pay for. In earlier books, Hewson seems to give his female supporting characters the job of solving the mystery while credit for the solution stays with the male lead. This book is no exception. This time a young nun/sister/Caravaggio scholar is the real hero and along with Theresa helps Nic and the guys solve the crime.

This is not the best of the Coasta series but is worth the effort.

10 of 10 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

for art lovers

After listening to this book, I was ready either to hop on a plane and head for Rome, or to sign up for a very expensive tour that purported to follow in Caravaggio's footsteps. Hewson's novels keep getting better, and this one is fabulous, but, if you don't like paintings, history, art history or mysteries that link history with the plot, this isn't for you. It does require some attention to not only a somewhat improbable plot, but also quite detailed analysis of Caravaggio as a painter and historical figure. The attention is well-rewarded, as Nic Costa gets better and better--more complex, more interesting, and always on the verge of some new phase of his life.

The reader is great; the pace is fine, and the plot, though improbable, keeps racing along.

A thoroughly enjoyable book to listen to. And I think Hewson is generally better as an audiobook than a written one, so you can savor his sense of place.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

great surprise!

after the other tepid reviews, i hesitated to purchase this book... I'm so glad i did! found the story gripping and intense, the characters fascinating, the juxtaposition of history and present exciting. the narration was wonderful: finally, someone who can pronounce Italian properly! if you enjoyed the Da Vinci code, i think you would enjoy this tremendously as well~ i couldn't put it down~

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • D. WARD
  • Midlothian, Virginia United States
  • 10-13-09

revisit Rome and enjoy a great thriller

I loved the setting,the storyline was unusual and the characters were not the standard. It had me engrossed form the first 5 minutes.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Jim
  • Las Vegas, NV, USA
  • 07-24-09

Thouroughly Enjoyable

I generally listen to books related to history, had a whim and got this one and thoroughly enjoyed it. It has bits of history throughout the book wrapped into a fictional story that was entertaining and enjoyable. If you've ever been to Rome then this is a book to bring back a lot of memories of places around the city.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

The Cowboy movie syndrome lives

Does anybody remember the classic scene in the cowboy movies where the villain holds a gun to the heroine's head and orders the hero to drop his gun? I do. I also remember dozens of wise ten year olds yelling at the screen: "Don't do it. He's going to kill her anyway!" Unfortunately, whenever Hewson needs for the villain to escape, that's the only device he can come up with, except for one memorable instance when the hero gets a clear shot at the villain and, so help me God, the gun clicks on empty. PLEEEASE! I understand that the villain must triumph initially, or the book would be awfully short, but any author worth his salt can come up with something other than a worn cliche. There are other minor inconsistencies that don't stand up to logic, but it is a mostly a good read. I just wish the author had a better imagination.

7 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Good Italian Mystery

THis was a thoroughly enjoyable mystery set in modern day Rome. Well read, good suspense and creative concept. This is particularly fun if (1) you like Italy and (2) you like art. If those are not your thing, try another book.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • adam
  • coralville, IA, United States
  • 02-26-09

Pretty bad

To put it simply this is a pretty poor effort. I'll have to admitt that I only listened to a few hours of the book but it seemed much much longer as the narator is absolutely unendurable. A brit trying to sound italian and doing a bad job of it. I can't remember which famous author it was that suggested this book but I doubt that he ever listened to it.

5 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall


The quality of the prose is good to very good and the overall plot idea is interesting.
However, if you care at all about realism and accuracy of technical details, this novel is not for you.
Also, the book presents you with the most incompetent police force this side of the Keystone Kops.

4 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • Overall
  • Kirstine
  • 09-30-08

Murder and art skilfully combined

This is a further instalment in the lives and work of policeman Costa and colleagues in David Hewson's Rome series. The author's fertile imagination, yet again, conjures up an extraordinary story that mixes police detection, forensic science, religion and Italian art that carries one along wanting to know what happens next in this long recording. The book stands alone as a great story, but you'll get more out of it if you've listened to the earlier books in this series and thus know some of the background to the main characters, who are brought wonderfully to life by Saul Reichlin's outstanding performance in reading the text. Performance being the operative word as he doesn't just read the words: he, using a full range of voices, dramatizes the book as if it's almost a audio play.
As a bonus you get to learn quite a bit about the Caravaggio and Italian art: sequences of discourse that relieves some of the tension created by the furious pace of other parts of the book.

20 of 22 people found this review helpful

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  • c
  • 06-27-13

Sorry but this was a Garden Full Of Rubbish For Me

Would you try another book written by David Hewson or narrated by Saul Reichlin?

For me this missed all the targets, not least of which was plausibility. Saul Reichlin does his best and though I intensely disliked the book from about halfway through, I did finish it....eventually.... but only out of respect for the narrator and the author.

The characters, for the most part,are pretty insipid and unbelievable as is the plot, most of which is taken up with speculation surrounding the life and work of the artist Caravaggio. If you're an art lover you may appreciate this far more than I did.

Anyway, I won't be buying any more of David Hewson's Rome Series. This is my second purchase of this particular series and though I wasn't too impressed by the first I had really hoped for better from the second one. I still just can't quite believe that this is the same guy who wrote 'The Killing', which for me was a superlative thriller with no issues surrounding plausibility or quality. It was outstanding as a book and as a TV serial.So I won't be writing off David Hewson .....just the Rome Series. Sorry but definitely NOT for me.

Has The Garden of Evil put you off other books in this genre?


What three words best describe Saul Reichlin’s performance?

Superb. Believable. Engaging.

If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from The Garden of Evil?

Most of It!

Any additional comments?


1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Mr. R. Jones
  • 03-24-10

Complex but totally entertaining

this book was very interesting. Took a little while to get into but then magic.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Haitch
  • 06-03-16

My favorite Costa book

I didn't read them in order, this is the last one for me unless more are published
T his was the best one.
I will now try the other Hewson/ reichlin combos

  • Overall
  • A
  • 04-25-10

A really good listen.

Would give it 5 stars but Greg Iles sequel to this book is even better so have reserved 5 stars for that one.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • David
  • 01-10-10

Greatly admired

An ingenious, fascinating plot expressed in a literate, fast-paced style.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Clive
  • 05-10-12

Highly enjoyable

I enjoy the Rome series from David Hewson and this is one of the best in my view. A good story line which holds the interest very well. David Hewson weaves a good plot and captures the atmosphere of Rome within the story. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and must give credit to Saul Reichlin for a very smooth narration.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Toni
  • 11-21-16

loved it......

The writing is mature & stimulating, & smoothly continues the lives of the main characters.