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The Crusade of Darkness [Paperback]

Giulio Leoni
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
RRP: 7.99
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Book Description

2 Jun 2011

For fans of Dan Brown's Inferno, a sensational Italian thriller starring Dante Alighieri as lead detective.

A troubled quest, an ambitious politician, a brutal killer.

Italy, October 1301. Dante Alighieri, Prior to the city of Florence, is sent to Rome to meet with the Pope. Sinister omens greet his arrival; the river Tiber is threatening to burst its banks and the corpses of several young woman have been found eviscerated and ritually murdered.

Dante has no power to order an investigation but when the authorities show little interest in the deaths he promises the mother of one victim that he will bring the murderer to justice.

But when Dante visits the Vatican, and makes the acquaintance of an ambitious senator named Spada, he discovers that the city hides yet more dark secrets...

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Product details

  • Paperback: 560 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (2 Jun 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099549042
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099549048
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 19.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 628,402 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"For a series character distinctively different, it is hard to beat the Italian author Giulio Leoni's trick of casting Dante Alighieri, the medieval author of The Divine Comedy, as a sleuth" (The Times)

Book Description

A medieval murder mystery - can Italian poet turned sleuth Dante Alighieri uncover who is behind the ritual murders of young women in Rome?

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
The front cover of this book proclaims "A Medieval Murder Mystery" but I am afraid you would be hard pushed to categorize this as book as such, so convoluted and unwieldy the plot. The central character, the poet Dante Alighieri, arrives in Rome as an ambassador from Florence during the reign of Pope Boniface in the beginning of the 14th century. He finds a mutilated female corpse and vows to find out who committed this terrible act. So far so good. Unfortunately the author over populates this historical tale, frequently introducing characters with a flourish and then forgetting them for long tracts. His descriptions and historical detail are exemplary, but the plot sinks under the weight of too much going on and not enough straightforward moving the plot along.

This was a disappointing novel that I found a struggle to finish, considering it is set in an historical period in which I am interested,this does not reflect well on its merits.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Crusade of Darkness 9 July 2011
By Champollion VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
The medieval mystery thriller is still flourishing and Giulio Leoni has chosen to portray the great Dante Alighieri, poet and author of "The Divine Comedy" and "Inferno" as a sleuth. The author has created a blend of fact and fiction at a time in Italian history when things were quite complicated in terms of politics and allegiances.

The background to this story is set in the fourteenth century when the country consisted of small states, powerful families and a scheming Pope - Boniface VIII, all jostling for position and wealth.

Dante, a Florentine ambassador is sent to Rome to meet with the Pope to discover his plans, but becomes involved in the investigation of the ritual murder of a young woman, (one of several,) after making a promise to the mother of one of the victims.

If you mix into this his subsequent dealings with the Inquisition, the ambitious senator Spada, and being drawn into plans for a new Crusade and the recapture of Jerusalem, and you can see that Dante as a character has a lot to drive the story in this labyrinthine novel.

It is a book which commands concentration and a list of characters, glossary and a helpful translators note (which should be at the front of the book,) is provided to help you navigate your way through.

This is a book which will appeal to you if you like your mysteries with a historical background and a 'pea soup' of a plot.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Dante's cold inferno 17 Dec 2012
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Another book I'd been saving to read when I thought I'd have the time. I had the time but perhaps I shouldn't have bothered.

If you are wanting - and I was - an invigorating murder mystery set in the early 1300s, then this is not the book, despite the cover's blurb.

It's also my fist Leoni novel and I'd be hard pressed to read another if Dante remains as he does in this book, We know Dante was a well respected and intellectual Florentine at a time when the Vatican played a much more physical attitude towards its religious doctrines but, oh dear, the lengthy prose, the discussions of afterlife and the way to achieve it are not the foundations for a gripping mystery. Nor do endless discussions about a Crusade do much for keeping the action flowing. Unlike the Tiber, this hardly trickles.

I did enjoy the author's take on this time in Rome, the more so now that Rome is featuring in a good documentary (December 2012) but I'm afraid, for me, it doesn't make up for a turgid and almost unreadable mystery story. If I'd wanted the life and times of Dante as he really was, then I'd have bought Inferno or maybe Merriman's biography.

So, with regret, as they say, I have to put this book to one side and move on.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Intense, dark, mediaeval mystery 30 April 2012
By Andrew Johnston VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This is an intense, dark, mediaeval mystery, set in turbulent 13th Century Italy. Giulio Leoni makes Dante Aligheri the central character who travels as Florence's ambassador to Rome, but who rapidly becomes embroiled in investigating a series of murdered and eviscerated prostitutes, which leads to a complex plot at the highest level of Church and Imperial politics.

The idea of making a real historical figure the detective in a historical mystery is not unique (arguably Philip Kerr makes an even better choice with Isaac Newton in Dark Matter) but it is very effective. We know these characters had considerable intellect, the right political connections to advance investigations, and were in interesting places at interesting times.

However unlike Kerr's Newton, Leoni's Dante is initially very ill-prepared for his task, and is annoyingly gullible until right at the end of the tale. Given that this is his fourth outing in such a role, you'd think he'd be getting a bit better at it! The novel also struck me as very similar to S J Parris' tales featuring Giordano Bruno, but with the difference that at least Dante does at least realise the truth for himself, albeit right at the end.

The story is well written, with action which advances very steadily and got me involved quite quickly. There's a distinctly Italian focus on the political relationships between the players, but Leoni avoids the mistake of creating a cast of thousands, and focuses on a relatively small group of core characters. The very distinctive writing style is usually easy to read - whether this is the author's skill or the translator's is not clear, and arguably unimportant.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars Abandon hope...
Alright as it goes. Not convincing in style, doesn't grip and doesn't satisfy expectation - given the prospectively rich period of intrigue and suspense from which Leoni is... Read more
Published 15 months ago by Pompom
2.0 out of 5 stars Sadly too confusing for words
I tried so hard to like this and read and get into it.... I tried twice... but sadly I just could not get my head around it - I think it is the translation that put me off as I... Read more
Published on 27 Jan 2012 by BusyReader
3.0 out of 5 stars Historical Detective/character
This book is obviously well written, although I found the flow/syntax not easy to my reading style, perhaps due to the fact that it is a translation. Read more
Published on 19 Aug 2011 by Crimas
3.0 out of 5 stars A hotchpotch of characters and motives
I had high hopes for this novel - Dante is the protagonist, an amateur sleuth as well as a poet, and medieval Italy the fascinating backdrop. Read more
Published on 17 Aug 2011 by Littlepig Littlepig
3.0 out of 5 stars Italian
I sort of think that if a book needs tranlation notes, then it is not going to be an easy summer holiday read! This is certainly true of this book. Read more
Published on 29 July 2011 by K. Glaister
2.0 out of 5 stars Just couldn't finish it
I tried really hard to like this book, Dante being a favoured historical figure for me, I actually read The Divine Comedy in Italian (with an Italian - english dictionary! Read more
Published on 21 July 2011 by F. Proctor
4.0 out of 5 stars Wordy, but worthwhile
The translation is what both makes and marrs this story. Personally, I love the rather clunky turn of phrase, the overblown descriptions, the analysis of irrelevant feelings - it's... Read more
Published on 19 July 2011 by Enquirer
3.0 out of 5 stars Not that thrilled
The Crusade of Darkness: Giulio Leoni (translated by Shaun Whiteside)

The cover of this book proudly proclaims it "a medieval murder mystery" and so it proves to be. Read more
Published on 16 July 2011 by A. J. Russell-pattison
3.0 out of 5 stars A vivid picture of Rome, but let down by some poor plotting
A sprawling, and at times rather aimless story that follows Dante's wanderings around Rome on his visit as Ambassador from Florence. Read more
Published on 11 July 2011 by Mondoro
3.0 out of 5 stars a medieval mystery...
I must confess that the device of using a famous person as a "detective" is not one that appeals to me. So the use of the poet Dante as the protagonist did not really appeal to me. Read more
Published on 10 July 2011 by Mrs
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