Stieg Larsson and CSI meet Renaissance Italy in Michael Ennis's ambitious The Malice of Fortune, in which Leonardo Da Vinci and Niccolo Machiavelli team up to investigate a series of grisly murders. All the victims are women; all are horribly mutilated. Anyone might be the next victim, including the beautiful golden-haired courtesan Damiata, with whom Machiavelli has fallen in love--and who guards a secret or two of her own.
The fictitious story in The Malice of Fortune occurs within a framework of documented historical events involving Duke Valentino--better known as the notorious Cesare Borgia, eldest son of Pope Alexander VI--and the brigand leaders who propose to help him conquer Italy. A treaty between Valentino and these leaders would mean certain doom for Florence, and that is how Machiavelli enters the story--as a low-level emissary sent by the council of Florence to stall negotiations as much as he can.
As the corpses pile up, a complex pattern takes shape--a message from the murderer so deviously encoded that Da Vinci, recently retained as Cesare's chief architect, must turn the full weight of his intellect to solving it, as Machiavelli homes in on the mass murderer. A brilliant historical thriller. --Ilana Teitelbaum, book reviewer at the Huffington Post