Book Review: The Hotel Of The Three Roses by Augusto De Angelis
A little introduction to this book, and its author. Augusto De Angelis was born in Rome in 1888, and is one of the greatest Italian writers in the detective genre. His famous inspector Carlo De Vincenzi has been described "As humane as Maigret, as romantic as Marlowe, as intellectual as Philo Vance, yet stubbornly Italian" by Oreste Del Buono, and "De Vicenzi, is an investigator who doesn’t stop at the material evidence, but digs with uncommon passion in the psyche of his characters, and the atmosphere in which they live and operate… a rare delight" by Il Corriere Della Sera.
I’ll try to keep this post as spoiler-free as possible. The Hotel of the Three Roses is one of De Angelis’ most famous mysteries. The story is set in a small hotel in the centre of Milan, in 1919.
Tipped beforehand by an anonymous letter, De Vincenzi learns about the murder of a young Englishman in the Hotel of the Three Roses. The grotesque murder is only the first in a series of mysterious and shady events that take place in that hotel, an infamous haunt for gamblers and alcoholics. As the plot unfolds, the reader is drawn in more and more, trying to get answers to all the questions that come up along the way. Do the residents of the hotel know each other? How and why did they come together in this hotel in Milan? Who is responsible for the murders, and was the killer acting alone? What are their motives, and how are they linked to a massacre in South Africa years ago?
A page turner of the highest calibre, The Hotel of the Three Roses is a masterfully crafted whodunit, with a great Italian writer at the reins. De Vincenzi is reminiscent the great detectives of a century ago, with hints of Poirot and Maigret. The translated works of De Angelis bring to the English-speaking reader crime novels of a classic era, immersing them into that troubled period between World Wars, and all the characters that come with it.