The darkest sin by D.V. Bishop

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Cesare Aldo is sent to the Convent to investigate a story that a man had been seen scaling the walls. Sceptical, Aldo meets the Abbess who denies such a thing has happened taking him on a tour of the buildings. While doing this he spots a day school girl and recognises her as his niece, Isabella, the daughter of his estranged sister. 

His investigations uncover undertones of intrigue at the convent and when a body is found, things become even more complex. Aldo has to tread a careful line between his employers at the criminal court and the very powerful reaches of the Church. He stays after the body is discovered, to investigate the murder, and talks his niece into staying at the now enclosed convent to keep her eyes open to what may be happening. He is told to leave. 

Meanwhile Stroochi has gone to his home town with his new wife to visit his mother. While there he catches sight of a familiar silver buckle, and realises it is the one worn by the missing corrupt officer, Cerchi. Exhuming the body left after being in the water for some months, limbs torn by the recent floods, Strocchi notices nicks on two ribs which point to his death as murder. The investigations of both Strocchi and Aldo are sure to intersect as Aldo gets himself onto the Visitation sent by the church to investigate the convent. Aldo deduces what may have happened to the deceased, and at odds with the head of the investigating committee he wheedles his way into staying at the convent using Isabella as an excuse, and deliberately makes himself a target to the poisoner.

Bishop packs a load of information about Medici Florence into his books. The sights, sounds and smells of the city sweep before the reader as each page is turned and chapter read.

The second in the successful series about Cesare Aldo, an officer of the criminal court in Florence in the mid sixteenth century, where the Medici family rules, the books are full of wonderful back stories, telling readers what life was like for rich and poor alike in tis well known period of Italy’ s history. 

This book won the 2023 CWA Historical Dagger for the Scottish author, and was shortlisted for several other awards.

Themes: Crime, Florence, Medici Italy, Women in the sixteenth century, Convent life, Roman Catholic Church, Power.

Fran Knight