David Hewson, “Dante’s Numbers” (2009)

david-hewson-dantes-numbers-2009“In the gorgeous grounds of Rome’s Villa Borghese park the glitterati of the movie world are gathered for a world premiere. A legendary Italian movie director has come out of retirement to create a blockbuster based on Dante’s Inferno. But, as Nic Costa and his colleagues attempt to guard the precious collection of historic artefacts attached to the event, the premiere is disrupted by tragedy and a horrific murder.” [. . .]    —David Hewson

Contributed by Patrick Molloy

Thomas H. Cook, “Master of the Delta” (2008)

thomas-h-cook-master-of-the-delta-2008“Jack Branch, teaching high school in his hometown in the Mississippi Delta in 1954, is justifiably proud of his college-prep ‘specialty’ class on the nature of evil. It’s a guts-and-gore attack on the classics–a potent mix of Dante and Melville and Jack the Ripper, delivered with the relish of Suetonius and the pizzazz of a burlesque stripper, and it prods his restless students to think about issues like hatred and intolerance. But this prideful young man, scion of an old aristocratic family who freely admits his sense of noblesse oblige in educating the poor and underprivileged, hasn’t given a thought to the kind of evil he himself can generate by meddling in other people’s lives.” [. . .]    –Marilyn Stasio, The New York Times, July 13, 2008

Matilde Asensi, “The Last Cato” (2007)

matilde-asensi-the-last-cato-2007Asensi’s first novel to be published in English features a clandestine religious organization, a code contained in the work of a long-dead genius, a plucky heroine, and just the right combination of obscure history and plausible conjecture. Sound familiar? The Last Cato will inevitably draw comparisons to The Da Vinci Code, but this book is in many ways more compelling, if a bit less accessible. After Dr. Ottavia Salina, a nun working as a paleographer at the Vatican, is asked to decipher tattoos on the dead body of an ‘enemy of the Church’ from Ethiopia, she soon discovers the deceased was tied up with the Staurofilakes, an ancient order who have sought to protect the True Cross and now seem to be stealing slivers of it from around the world. The key to tracking them down? Dante’s Divine Comedy. Turns out that Dante was a member of the order himself, and that the notoriously dense Divine Comedy is a kind of coded guidebook to the order’s rituals. Salina and a couple companions set off, with Dante as their guide, on a rollicking, round-the-world adventure. Some of the conjecture seems far-fetched, but the research is impeccable, and the behind-the-scenes Vatican life feels utterly authentic. As engrossing as it is intelligent, this just might be the next big book in the burgeoning religious thriller subgenre.”    –John Green, Booklist, Amazon

Dante Detective?

domenic-stansbury-the-ancient-rain The third installment of the Dominic Stansberry‘s San Francisco mystery series featuring Dante Mancuso, AKA The Pelican. Forthcoming, 2008 with St. Martin’s Minotaur.

“. . .THE ANCIENT RAIN, the third novel in a habit-forming series about Dante Mancuso, a private eye who knows everyone to talk to–or goes to the funeral of anyone unable to talk. Dante finds himself with a paying job when a federal prosecutor reopens a 1975 court case against Bill Owens, who once ran with the anarchists responsible for a bank robbery in which a woman was killed. As Dante works his sources–a vivid gallery of old-timers clinging to an eroding culture–he broods on the changes since 9/11, eloquently conveying the paranoia that can have a community seeing terrorists on every corner.” [. . .]    –Marilyn Stasio, New York Times, April 27, 2008

Jane Langton, “The Dante Game: A Homer Kelly Mystery” (1992)

jane-langton-the-dante-game-a-homer-kelly-mystery-1992“The latest Homer Kelly mystery unfolds in Italy, where he joins the faculty of the newly formed American School of Florentine Studies. As students and professors read their way through Dante’s Divine Comedy , they and the author draw parallels to modern-day Florence, where a bank official (and secret heroin smuggler) plots to assassinate the anti-drug-crusading Pope, using a Beatrice-like student as hostage. After three murders at the school, Homer and a friend investigate. The novel’s strolling pace accelerates only near the very end, but there is adequate amusement for Langton or Dante fans, or both.”    –Library Journal, Amazon

Sarah Lovett, “Dantes’ Inferno: A Dr. Sylvia Strange Novel” (2002)

sarah-lovett-dantes-inferno-a-dr-sylvia-strange-novel-2002“The author of the critically acclaimed novels Dangerous Attachments and Acquired Motives is back with another spellbindingly original thriller featuring forensic psychiatrist Sylvia Strange. Now, in Dantes’ Inferno, Sylvia is called to Los Angeles from her New Mexico home when a massive explosion blasts through the J. Paul Getty Museum, endangering children on a field trip and claiming two lives. The police peg notorious bomber John Dantes as the mastermind, even though he’s in a maximum-security prison, serving a life sentence for another bombing he claims he didn’t commit.” [. . .]    —Amazon

Anthony Maulucci, “Dear Dante” (2006)

anthony-maulucci-dear-dante-2006“With echoes of The Name of the Rose, comes this thought-provoking novel about an attempted murder and its mystical consequences. Part mystery, part psychological drama about love, part depiction of the duality of human nature, of good and evil, of heterosexuality and bisexuality, part exploration of the making of a Christian mystic, Dear Dante simply defies easy categorization. Anthony Maulucci has compressed many layers into his well-wrought narrative and finely tuned characterizations. The main narrator of Dear Dante is an English-born Italian named John, a professor of Renaissance studies living in Tuscany and writing a book about Dante. A bi-sexual father in the midst of a marital and spiritual crisis, John has visions of Dante and Beatrice while listening to his former student’s story of a redemptive journey through a personal hell — the attempt to murder his lover’s husband and his struggle to choose between the two women in his life — that reawaken his creative energies and help bring about his spiritual renewal.”    —Amazon