Saturday, January 3, 2009

Dante's Numbers-David Hewson

Dante's Numbers
David Hewson
Delacorte, Mar 2009, $24.00
ISBN: 9780385341486

In Florence, Italy, terminally ill septuagenarian director Roberto Tonti is hosting a special premier of his new movie Inferno. As part of the gala, a fourteenth century death mask of Dante is on display. However, instead of the priceless original, someone replaces it with a death mask of the star American actor Allan Prime. The person wearing the Prime mask is gruesomely murdered and the American actor is missing. Soon afterward someone in a Carbiniere uniform stalks the film’s leading actress Maggie Flavier, but her attacker is shot.

Whereas the Carbiniere insist case closed blaming the robbery, homicide and assault on a fanatic madman, Police Detective Nic Costa thinks otherwise; that is when he is not feeling self pity as a widower of six months and not even thirty. He, accompanied by officers Leo Falcone and Gianni Peroni and pathologist Teresa Lupo, heads to San Francisco where Tonti’s film is premiering next in order to prevent further murders as they believe a killer remains on the loose.

The Dante connection in Italy is one of the best police procedural opening segues in years. When the story line and the four musketeers shift to San Francisco, the story line remains fun, but loses some of its steam as three of the Italian cops are distracted; only grieving Costa, even with a new girlfriend, remains focused on the investigation. He is not so ably assisted by locals, who add humor to the mix. Although the villains are over the top of Nob Hill, fans of the series will enjoy Costa and his mates as they travel the mean streets of San Francisco.

Harriet Klausner

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