It’s the height of the tourist season in Rome, and security is tight as world leaders gather for a G8 summit. While politicians bicker behind the walls of the illustrious Palazzo del Quirinale, a terrible threat is lurking outside — a threat that’s been dormant for a long time but is now very much awake. In David Hewson’s powerful new thriller, Detective Nic Costa and the men and women of the Questura must work in secret to thwart a conspiracy that reaches higher than any of them could have imagined.
In the early hours of a sultry summer evening, a government car comes under fire along the narrow Via delle Quattro Fontane. When the shots die away, one person lies dead and another — Ministry of Interior official Giovanni Batisti — has been abducted.
The terrible fate of the missing bureaucrat is soon revealed — leaving all of Italy in shock. Who would do such a thing? And why? All signs point to a mysterious terrorist group that calls itself the Blue Demon, an organization whose last campaign of violence ended two decades ago.
For Detective Nic Costa, solving this case is an all-consuming obsession. But as he and his team begin their investigation, they find themselves reduced to expensive bodyguards — and their hands tied with red tape — until tragedy strikes and claims one of their own.
Hampered at every turn by the Ministry of Interior’s meddling security chief and a cagey and powerful prime minister, Costa and the members of his team are determined to pursue their quest for justice. As one terror attack after another sends the Eternal City spiraling into panic, Nic Costa vows that nothing will stop him from catching a vengeful madman bent on tearing apart his city, its people, and its very history. (From the publisher’s website)
To be completely honest with you, it has taken me well over two months to finish this book. I have also been dreading writing this review because I haven’t been able to bring myself to be any more positive about the novel than what follows. While the story had interesting elements, David Hewson didn’t really do much with them outside of drag out meaningless detail and commentary. In a story like this, the non-existent back story could have added the missing dimension that is so painfully obvious. Before reading this novel, I had never heard of David Hewson, though he has written multiple novels. City of Fear (published first in the United Kingdom as The Blue Demon) is the eighth installment of the “Nic Costa Series.” Having read the eighth book first, I’m not positive that I will go back and read the first seven. I may read one or two of his stand-alone novels, but we’ll have to see.
I’m the kind of guy that loves thrillers, mysteries, and murder investigations (I am a huge fan of 24 and Bones), and this story simply lacked any suspense whatsoever. My eyes kept to the page simply because I had committed to myself that I would review this book, even if it killed me. It didn’t kill me; it just took a long while to get through.
The premise of the novel is actually fascinating. If you do decide to read City of Fear, read the Author’s Note first to gain some context of the story. Because I read the Author’s Note last, I found myself saying to myself, “I wish I would have read this first. The whole story would have been more interesting and less frustrating to read.” But as it turned out, I only have the benefit of hindsight in the matter.
Would I suggest reading this book? Yes-to those that are die hard mystery novel readers; no-to the casual mystery novel reader. I really wish I could have given this novel a better review; I really do. However, Hewson didn’t deliver what I was hoping for or expecting. The setting was really cool (Rome, Italy during a G8 Summit); the characters weren’t very well developed; the plot lacked suspense. All in all, I was dissatisfied.