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Italy has always been a fabulous place for conspiracies...,
This review is from: Diavolino (Kindle Edition)If you're a fan of suspense and thriller fiction, you'll certainly enjoy this story in which the past comes back to haunt the present.
After a prologue and opening chapter set five hundred years before the present day, in which a secretive order of monks enact scenes of horrific debauchery, the action moves to 21st century London, where Englishman Tom Lupton is thinking it's time for a change of lifestyle. Tom is tired of the London rat race. When he gets the chance to build his dream house on a pretty Italian island, he hesitates for just long enough for the reader to tell him to stay in London. But soon enough he can't wait to go.
Then, with the Luptons' boats and bridges well and truly burned, things starts to go badly wrong. The island of Diavolino is a place of secrets, and the local people don't want anything to do with it. Many years ago, very bad things happened there, and there's still an aura of evil about the place. The Luptons have a small child, Alice, and being parents makes them especially vulnerable. Like most parents confronted by a five-year-old's fears of something being badly wrong, they try to explain these fears away. But of course Alice is right, and the Luptons soon begin to wish they'd never heard of Diavolino.
The villain Clavelli is a splendid creation, a really frightening presence who made me shiver with dread, not least because he is so physically repulsive, with his shards of decaying skin that fell onto his soutane like turgid dandruff.
By the half way stage of the story, Tom is seriously doubting his own sanity. All his most basic opinions and beliefs are challenged:
"Do you believe in God, Mr. Lupton?"
Tom snapped. "No, as a matter of fact I don't."
"Well, maybe it's time you started."
This is a horrific story, but it's enlivened by many flashes of humour, such as:
"What the hell is that?" Annamaria shielded Alice's eyes.
"God only knows," said Tom.
"Yes, he probably does," said Paolo.
The writing style is fluent and accessible, the setting is very well realised, and the creeping horror gradually enfolds the reader, making this a novel you really ought to read with the lights on and someone else in the house. A modern tribute to Dennis Wheatley, this is a deliciously terrifying first novel which will appeal to fans of English thriller maestros David Gibbins, Paul Sussman and - dare I say it - the American Dan Brown.