City of Vengeance, D.V. Bishop

Review Written By
Karen Chisholm

The debut novel in a series featuring Cesare Aldo, former soldier, now an officer in the city's most feared criminal court, CITY OF VENGEANCE is set during the winter of 1536 in Florence, Italy. At that time Florence was a wealthy and influential city, ruled over by the Duke Alessandro de Medici - volatile and dangerous in his own right. When a prominent Jewish moneylender is murdered in his home Aldo is directed to solve the murder before the feast of Epiphany, in four days time. What the edict doesn't take into account is the plot that Aldo uncovers to overthrow de Medici.

Not only was Florence wealthy and influential at this time, it was also rife with intrigue, gossip, political machinations, inequality and sexual excess. The extreme wealth of many contrasted starkly with desperate poverty. (Felt way too familiar to be honest). The murders of Levi, a Jewish moneylender who lived in fear, dying at the hands of a murderer despite repelling attacks by murderous bandits before, occurs around the same time as a young man is also brutally murdered, his body discovered clothed in beautiful, and very expensive, women's clothing. With that investigation led by Constable Carlo Strocchi, Aldo and he soon find their cases intersecting and they combine resources to find the killer, in the face of some very determined resistance.

Whilst CITY OF VENGEANCE is obviously going to appeal greatly to fans of historical crime fiction, this is such a strong debut it's one that should be sought out by all fans of the wider genre. It's atmospheric to the point of sensory overload, cleverly plotted, perfectly paced and absolutely riveting. The settings in which the characters move about provide really vivid pictures of the extremes - from the great wealth to the grinding poverty; and the sexual excesses that become the bordellos and sex worker's daily lives. There's also plenty of moral ambiguity with one victim being the sort of man nobody could bring themselves to say anything positive about, from a family riven with problems of their own.

At the heart of it all though, especially as a debut novel in a character based series, Cesare Aldo has to have potential, and he's got it in spades. Larger than life in some ways, charismatic, yet believable, and accessible, there's something memorable about this character, and CITY OF VENGEANCE. Definitely a series to watch out for.


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Florence. Winter, 1536. A prominent Jewish moneylender is murdered in his home, a death with wide implications in a city powered by immense wealth.

Cesare Aldo, a former soldier and now an officer of the Renaissance city’s most-feared criminal court, is given four days to solve the murder: catch the killer before the feast of Epiphany—or suffer the consequences.

During his investigations, Aldo uncovers a plot to overthrow the volatile ruler of Florence, Alessandro de’ Medici. If the Duke falls, it will endanger the whole city. But a rival officer of the court is determined to expose details about Aldo’s private life that could lead to his ruin. Can Aldo stop the conspiracy before anyone else dies, or will his own secrets destroy him first?

Review City of Vengeance, D.V. Bishop
Karen Chisholm
Friday, November 11, 2022

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