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The Malice of Fortuneby Michael Ennis
Synopses & Reviews
Against a teeming canvas of Borgia politics, Niccolò Machiavelli and Leonardo da Vinci come together to unmask an enigmatic serial killer, as we learn the secret history behind one of the most controversial works in the western canon, The Prince...
When Pope Alexander dispatches a Vatican courtesan, Damiata, to the remote fortress city of Imola to learn the truth behind the murder of Juan, his most beloved illegitimate son, she cannot fail, for the scheming Borgia pope holds her own young son hostage. Once there, Damiata becomes a pawn in the political intrigues of the pope’s surviving son, the charismatic Duke Valentino, whose own life is threatened by the condottieri, a powerful cabal of mercenary warlords. Damiata suspects that the killer she seeks is one of the brutal condottierri, and as the murders multiply, her quest grows more urgent. She enlists the help of an obscure Florentine diplomat, Niccolò Machiavelli, and Valentino’s eccentric military engineer, Leonardo da Vinci, who together must struggle to decipher the killer’s taunting riddles: Leonardo with his groundbreaking “science of observation” and Machiavelli with his new “science of men.” Traveling across an Italy torn apart by war, they will enter a labyrinth of ancient superstition and erotic obsession to discover at its center a new face of evil — and a truth that will shake the foundations of western civilization.
"Ennis (The Duchess of Milan) brilliantly recreates the complex politics of early 16th-century Italy in this absorbing and intelligent thriller that teams Leonardo da Vinci with Niccolo Machiavelli. The assassination of Juan Borgia, an illegitimate son of Pope Alexander VI, leads the pope to turn to Juan's older brother, Cesare, to further his military and territorial ambitions, which are opposed by mercenaries who fear the Borgias' consolidation of power. Against this turbulent backdrop, the future author of The Prince seeks to apply 'the principles that govern the nature of men' to solve a series of brutal murders that have left women mutilated. Da Vinci's scientific approach to examining the corpses advances the inquiry, even as the killer's vicious m.o. and planting of cloven footprints suggest that the devil himself is responsible. What could have come across as a contrived partnership is anything but in Ennis's skilled hands, and he seamlessly integrates the search for the murderer with the power struggles of the day. Fans of superior historical mystery writers such as Steven Saylor and Laura Jo Rowland will be enthralled. 6-city author tour. Agent: Dan Lazar, Writers House. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"Epic....This is a dense narrative, permeated by the sights, sounds and smells of Renaissance Italy, and one that can stand shoulder to shoulder with Umberto Eco’s Name of the Rose, with which it is sure to be compared." Kirkus (starred review)
"A hefty novel about the politics of 16th-century Italy [that] reads like a pulpy mystery....A thrilling whodunit — and a pretty good primer on da Vinci’s ‘science of observation’ as well as Machiavelli’s ‘science of man.’" Melissa Maerz, Entertainment Weekly
"Ennis is an uncommonly graceful writer and a conscientious researcher...his story zips along, a pleasure." Charles Finch, USA Today
"A novel that ranks among the best with the Italian Renaissance setting....The narrative brims with minor details that convey authenticity and authority over the material....Ennis brings the characters alive with impassioned dialogue." David Hendricks, San Antonio Express
"With its vivid, well-defined array of characters, The Malice of Fortune captures the glorious and gritty details of Renaissance Italy in a propulsive story. Ennis has achieved a great accomplishment, historical fiction that places us right into the characters' present." Matthew Pearl, author of The Dante Club and The Technologists
"Intriguing [and] well-researched...Ennis, a former art-history teacher, is an expert on Renaissance Italy. Everything in [Malice] is based on actual events and Ennis' fictional conceit — that Machiavelli and da Vinci work together to stop a powerful serial killer — shape[s] Holmes-and-Watson duos out of historical figures. Having Machiavelli cast in the role of what Ennis calls ‘history's first forensic profiler’ will satisfy those who come for the period ambience." Booklist
Machiavelli and Da Vinci join forces with the courtesan Damiata to expose a serial killer in their midst as we learn the secret history behind one of the most controversial political works ever written, Machiavelli's The Prince.
About the Author
Michael Ennis taught art history at the University of Texas, developed museum programs as a Rockefeller Foundation Fellow, and worked as an independent curator and consultant. He is the author of two historical novels, The Duchess of Milan and Byzantium. He has written for Esquire and Architectural Digest, and is a regular contributor to Texas Monthly. He lives in Dallas with his television producer wife, Ellen, and their daughter, Arielle.
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