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Reviewed by Ioana Marza for Readers' Favorite
Hillary Corby’s “When Angels Fall: A Benedetti Renaissance Mystery” is an absorbing mystery tale set in 15th century Florence. When Emiliano Benedetti, a young physician working at the abbey’s infirmary, finds the dead body of Pope Sixtus’ niece by a river, he is drawn into events that would change his life forever. Women are killed, love affairs blossom and fade, and the dreaded condottieri who are sent to investigate come and go; all this against the atmospheric background of Firenze in da Vinci’s time. Add to this a well-constructed detective story that does not reveal the murderer until the end, sprinkled with examples of the state of medical science in Renaissance Italy (Emiliano is a keen dissectionist) and the result is a book I thoroughly enjoyed.
Hillary Corby’s deep knowledge of Florence shows in many details throughout the book and enables her to create the ambiance convincingly. Hillary had clearly done plenty of research into medical matters in order to describe the occasional scientific details with credibility. There are a few scenes describing dissections or changes of the body in death that are not for the faint-hearted. However, these are not gratuitous. They confer realism, put Emiliano’s profession and interests into perspective as well as conveying the full enormity of the crimes. Such scenes also steer away from any chance of falling into an overly sweet romantic tone, keeping it balanced yet complex and always enjoyable. “When Angels Fall” will appeal to wide audiences, whether you like historical, romantic plots or detective stories. If the title is a clue, the premise has been set for developing a successful series and I would happily read the next installment.