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Two linked stories set in VENICE – centuries apart

12th October 2023

Lucifer’s Shadow by David Hewson, two linked stories set in Venice – centuries apart. Each dominated by evil.

Two linked stories set in VENICE - centuries apart

Lucifer’s Shadow was first published in 2001. As David explains in the introduction to this newly reprinted edition, the original publication was to prove life-changing for him. It was the final book in an initial three book publishing deal he had signed whilst still working as a journalist for the Sunday Times. The first two had been moderately successful. He was searching for the inspiration for the third when he was sent by the Sunday Times to cover a conference in Venice. He fell in love with the place. Ducking out of the conference (it was, apparently, pretty dull…) he wandered the streets of the city looking around in wonderment. The essence of the plot for Lucifer’s Shadow came to him. The book was written and published, and it was well received. He had thought it might be his last book, but it was not… His focus on Italy strengthened and he has gone on to write a series of great thrillers set in Venice and Rome. Location was crucial to each and every book. David once said that if the plot of a book set in one location could be instantly transferred to another, then the author had failed.

Lucifer’s Shadow is two books in one, written in alternate chapters. Each would actually work well in its own right. But the plots are very effectively linked. In the early 18th century Rebecca, a Jewess (living in a ghetto in Venice), is smuggled out of her home to play violin in a concert with Vivaldi. It is a very dangerous business. Jews are not allowed out of the ghetto at night, and they are not allowed in a Christian church (where the concert was played). She was extraordinarily talented, but the truth about her background could not be revealed. A rich admirer bought her a splendid new violin – oddly shaped but a joy to play and listen to. Evil then invaded her life.

Fast forward to the late 20th century. A young Englishman Daniel, fresh out of Oxford, takes a position in Venice to catalogue a book collection. He enters a very strange household… an ageing gay couple and their much younger housekeeper. All is not quite as it seems. Then the long forgotten violin re-appears. It had been found, by a petty thief on an errand for a dubious client, Hugo Massiter, buried in a coffin with a young violinist who had been murdered years before. The thief makes contact with one of Daniel’s employers and Daniel is sent to negotiate a price for the violin. At the same time the score of a concerto is found in the basement of the house they live which used to house a printing press. The concerto is exquisite.

Plans are made to present the work, played on the recovered violin by a young American at a prestige concert. An Englishman, the aforementioned Hugo Massiter, is the financier and ring-master. Massiter is well known to the police as a suspected trader in stolen artworks and artefacts. A very dramatic and very bloody finale to the book ensues. Again Evil is present.

The Evil that pervades both stories is very well described by David. The characters are well drawn and convincing. Recommended.

Tony for the TripFiction team

Catch the author on Twitter @david_hewson

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