Matt Rees, (also known as Matt Beynon Rees, born in Newport, Wales) is a Welsh novelist and former journalist. He is the author of the Omar Yussef (character) series of mystery novels about a Palestinian sleuth and of historical crime novels. He is the winner of a Crime Writers Association Dagger for his crime fiction. He lives in Jerusalem.
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Italy, 1605: For the ruling Borgia family, Rome is a place of grand palazzos and frescoed cathedrals. For the lowly artist Caravaggio, it is a place of rough bars, knife fights, and grubby whores. Until he is commissioned to paint the Pope… Soon, Caravaggio has gained entry into the Borgia family’s inner circle, and becomes the most celebrated artist in Rome. But when he falls for Lena, a low-born fruit-seller, and paints her into his Madonna series as a simple peasant woman, Italian society is outraged. Discredited as an artist, but unwilling to retract his vision of the woman he loves, Caravaggio is forced into a duel – and murders a nobleman. Even his powerful patrons cannot protect him from a death sentence. So Caravaggio flees to Malta, where, before he can be pardoned, he must undergo the rigorous training of the Knights of Malta. His paintings continue to speak of his love for Lena. But before he can return to her, as a Knight and a noble, Caravaggio, the most famous artist in Italy – simply disappears…
I’m a voracious reader of historical fiction, but not much historical crime fiction, I steer away from crime drama’s where possible. But this one intrigued me, and im glad it did. The author appears to have a passion for the period and Caravaggio. The Borgia’s are topical right now with the TV series and its nice too read contrasting characters and settings.
The true victory of this book is the passion of the author, while the story is well told and tragic, its the writing that transports you to the 1600’s to experience the sights, sounds, smells and emotions of the people and time.
For those who might think this would be a plodding period piece, its not, its atmospheric, action packed and full of dramatic twists and turns. I soon forgot this was a crime drama, it became a deeply involved story that just transported me to a more artistic era of time, and a more dangerous time, when life was lived to the full.
1. The Bethlehem Murders (2007)
aka The Collaborator of Bethlehem
2. The Saladin Murders (2008)
aka A Grave in Gaza
3. The Samaritan’s Secret (2009)
4. The Fourth Assassin (2010)
Mozart’s Last Aria (2011)
A Name in Blood (2012)
Damascus Trance (2011)
The Sweetest Things (2012)
Lazarus’s Brush: a short story of Caravaggio in Sicily (2012)
The Man Who Went Out at Night (2012)
Non fiction series
The Dark Refuge: Israel’s Scandalous Neglect of its Mentally Ill Holocaust Survivors (2012)
Heroic Scum: How the PLO’s Old Campaigners Were Betrayed by Peace (2012)
Kissing the Dead: The Revenge of a Betrayed Hamas Leader(2012)
The Painter and the Prophet: Two Men Who Paid a Price for Loving the Land (2012)
Cain’s Field: Faith, Fratricide, and Fear in the Middle East (2008)
Matatya’s Cafe: The Israeli Musicians Who Brought East and West Together (2012)