Review: City of Vengeance by D. V. Bishop

City of Vengeance by D. V. Bishop

Timy reviews City of Vengeance, the first book in the Cesare Aldo historical mystery series by D. V. Bishop.

About the Book
Series:Cesare Aldo #1
Genre:Historical Fiction, Mystery
Publisher:Pan Macmillan
Date of Publishing:February 4, 2021
Trigger Warnings:death, blood, violence, suicide
Page count:

Possible fit for The Sound of Madness Reading Challenge 2024 prompts:

Joker prompt that goes with anything: Now We Are Free

Anywhere Away From HereKiss My Ass
HandwrittenYou Are My Home
PsychoSummer Jam
AddictedNew Song
The MysticSay It
Queen of KingsThe Legend of Mother Swan
Accidentally in LoveThrough Glass
White FlagRoad to Joy
Sob StoryGive That Wolf a Banana
Always HalloweenKill Your Conscience
TherapyGhosts & Monsters
Low LifeChasing Stars
Book Blurb
City of Vengeance by D. V. Bishop

City of Vengeance is an explosive debut historical thriller by D. V. Bishop, set in Renaissance Florence.

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?

Song of the Book

I couldn’t really find a song that fits, but I wanted to go with an Italian band – tho I only know one, Maneskin. I eventually decided on Le Parole Lontane, thinking about a certain character.

Review

First of all, how very dare you. I don’t know how, but I’m going to find the person(s) who FAILED to make me start reading the Cesare Aldo series much sooner. HEADS WILL ROLL FOR THIS! *Ahem* Lucky for me, I still have a couple of months to catch up before book 4 is published this summer – a book I requested and ARC of halfway through City of Vengeance. If that’s not enough of an indication of how much I enjoyed this debut historical mystery novel, then let me elaborate further.

I’ve been eyeing City of Vengeance for a while now, but I kept pushing it aside. Having read C.J. Sansom‘s Shardlake series, I developed very high expectations for historical fiction novels, and it’s a bar that’s hard to jump for many. So I’m wary when it comes to picking a book in the same genre, as it can go either way. Although that’s true for everything, I guess. Anyway, back in January when I created my shortened TBR for 2024, I put City of Vengeance on it, then in February on a whim, I went and got an audiobook copy. I couldn’t tell you why my brain picked it, but it did, and a good thing too, for the reason above.

City of Vengeance is set in early 1536, in Florence. The plot revolves around two murder cases, one of them revealing a plot against the Duke. If you are familiar with Alessandro de’ Medici’s history, then you probably won’t be surprised who is behind it (I wasn’t either, but not because I know anything about these historical events, but because I’ve read enough mysteries to know who might be a primary suspect, especially when it comes to politics). One of the victims is Luca Corsini, a young boy who is found beaten to death in a dress courtesans usually wear. Strocchi, a young constable who recently moved to Florence is determined to find out what happened to him, even though no one above him is interested much in the fate of a “buggerone” as one of them likes to call him. He soon finds out that a number of wealthy merchants favored the boy, and thus there are a few possible suspects who might have wanted to keep their identity secret.

The other victim is a Jewish moneylender, who is killed in his home on the night he returns from Bologna. Guarded by none other than Cesare Aldo, ex-mercenary, police investigator. And so, he sets out to find out who wanted him dead so much that they not even attacked on the road, but went as far as killing him in his home, when he was adamant he was safe within the walls of Florence. His investigation is thwarted by the close-knit Jewish community who don’t want to talk to him, but at the same time, he gets pressured to solve the case by the Emperor’s representative and the Duke himself. The time is ticking and Aldo not only has to find a murderer, but keep an eye on his own back as someone is determined to set him aside, revealing a secret of his own.

I loved pretty much everything about City of Vengeance – the setting, the intrigue, the characters, the way Bishop made Florence come alive. There are quite a few characters, but it never feels too many because Bishop navigates between them with ease. They never feel onedimensional, even those characters who only appear a few times. I liked Strocchi, the young constable for his morales and the way he has no prejudice against victims – every life matters, and everyone deserves justice. He is the naive, idealistic character in this story.

Then there is Aldo himself, with a strong sense of justice, a natural curiosity, and determination to find answers. But he is no saint, he had his share of killing on the battlefields, and has no qualms about getting his hands dirty if needs be. He can be brutal and he is no idealist that’s for sure. I liked how Aldo and Strocchi worked together, so different and yet making a sensible pair.

Another character that needs to be mentioned is an officer above them (I have no idea how to spell his name since I listened to the audiobook, and I’d rather not butcher it), who has it for Aldo. He is a nasty piece of shit that’s for sure. He is the type who only looks out for himself, actively asks for bribes, blackmails people if he can get money out of them, and definitely punches down as much as he can. He is as bigot as they come and I’m not sure he had any redeeming qualities. But maybe that’s what made reading this book such a joy – the spectrum of characters, some you could cheer for, some you could enjoy hating all the while you try to figure out what must have happened.

Well that, and also the look into the life of these people, especially the Jewish community – I would have liked to see more of that. And if I want to nitpick a bit more, sometimes I thought people happened to be at a certain place a bit too conveniently, but I could forgive that. I also wasn’t sure about certain plotlines, like Aldo and the doctor’s connection, though I can see how that gives more character to Aldo, so I’m not so mad about that either.

City of Vengeance is a very strong debut from D. V. Bishop, and I can see why he is praised and even compared to C. J. Sansom. This is not a perfect book, but it’s an excellent start to what I expect to be an amazing series. I absolutely can’t wait to continue. Also, City of Vengeance gave me the final push in wanting to learn Italian. Between Bishop (not least thanks to the amazing narrator, Mark Meadows) and Maneskin they just made me completely fall in love with it. How can you not with names such as Scoronconcolo? Oh, and Florence! I need to make a trip to Florence someday soon. Anyway. I need to stop gushing, I have the next book to read.

Our Judgement
Praise Their Name - 5 crowns

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