Longlisted for the 2014 Arthur Ellis Best Novel Award!
An intoxicating mystery set amid the glories—and the dark underworld—of Renaissance Italy
When young Francesco Angeli sees a golden-haired woman being pulled from the Tiber on a rainy Rome morning, he is shocked to realize that he knows her. It is 1508, and Francesco is reluctant houseboy to Michelangelo, who is at work on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Francesco prefers the company of the urbane Raphael and the artistic circle that gathers at the home of Imperia, who operates a brothel in the shadow of the Vatican while the all-powerful Pope Julius II turns a blind eye. The woman in the river is one of Imperia’s ladies, and against his will Francesco becomes involved in the search for the truth about her death.
Meanwhile, rising waters flood the city’s streets, turning Romans into refugees and the Coliseum into an emergency refuge, and hungry wolves descend from the Roman hills to stalk the city like ghosts. As Francesco follows the deepening mystery from the back streets to the pope’s inner sanctum, he begins to realize that danger and corruption may lurk behind the most beautiful of facades.
“This is the third novel by the Canadian team of Buonaguro and Kirk, and it’s the best so far. The setting is Rome, 1508, and Michelangelo is hard at work on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. The master’s houseboy and dogsbody is Francesco Angeli and it’s Angeli who spots a body floating in the Tiber. It wasn’t such an unusual sight in those days, but when the corpse is dragged in, Angeli is astonished to find that he knows the dead woman. The writers are adept at plotting and they make great use of the grand artists who were in Rome at the time, along with the streets, smells and the brothels they attended. There are also floods on the rise to add to the suspense as Angeli hunts for a killer and attends to genius.”
--Globe & Mail
"Rome, Sex & Art: Forced to work as a humble servant to artist Michelangelo, Francesco prefers the company of other, more amenable artists as well as prostitutes in a nearby brothel. When one of the girls drowns, Francesco finds himself entangled in the mystery of what happened and caught up in the corruption invading Rome. A thrilling tale of beauty and ugliness in Renaissance Italy."
“A zesty mix of high-class brothels and high-level corruption make The Wolves of St. Peter’s a top-notch historical thriller. Buonaguro and Kirk lead us through the murkier side of Renaissance Rome with the help of a cast of enjoyably unpleasant characters, including a grumpy Michelangelo and a serenely dissolute Raphael. Who needs The Borgias?”
--Ross King, Governor General’s Award–winning author of Leonardo and the Last Supper and Michelangelo and the Pope's Ceiling
"Gina Buonaguro and Janice Kirk bring to life a suspenseful thriller set against the glory and corruption of Renaissance Rome, a perfect read for any historical fiction lover."
--Anokhi Magazine - On the Shelf Book Pick
“The Wolves of St. Peter’s is an engrossing historical murder mystery—atmospheric, quirky, and compelling. The characters are fresh and full of life: stingy, surly Michelangelo with his three-legged chicken; mean, gouty, immoral Pope Julius II, graceful Raphael and his eccentric circle (including a man who thinks he’s a bat). Corrupt, filthy Rome itself comes fully to life, a city struggling to capture its former glory. Thoroughly enjoyable.”
--Sandra Gulland, author of the Josephine B. Trilogy and Mistress of the Sun
“Renaissance Rome springs to life (and death) in this shape-shifting tale of intrigue, deceit, and murder—a sort of post-medieval whodunit. The vibrant cast of characters who stalk these pages range from Pope Julius II and painters Michelangelo and Raphael to an unforgettable assortment of courtesans, aesthetes, and misfits. By turns gritty and sumptuous, The Wolves of St. Peter’s will keep you rapt—and guessing—till the end.”
--Oakland Ross, author of The Dark Virgin and The Empire of Yearning
“If you’re a fan of murder mysteries, you’ll enjoy this one. There’s a surprise ending that I don’t think I could have predicted. It’s a good book for someone looking for a suspenseful read.”
"This is their best so far; the characters are both familiar and exotic, the historical details first-rate (particularly fun is the rivalry between Michelangelo and Raphael, even though they are minor characters)... There are some surprising twinkles of humour too – mostly provided by a three-legged chicken. This is a fine read for historical mystery lovers and art-lovers alike, and the ending seems to indicate we will see more of Francesco Angeli in the future. I hope so."
--Stratford Public Library, Shelf Life
"I feel like this book was such a success, and I am excited to go through some of their older titles. These two did a beautiful job of recreating Renaissance Rome for readers and really brought the characters to life."
--Cozy Up with a Good Read
"The historical depiction, suggestive but at the same time ghostly, is the perfect setting for a well-engineered story, where you have to wait for the epilogue to recompose all the pieces of the mosaic. The authors are really good at delivering suspense and keeping the reader glued to the story from start to finish. The style is straightforward and the reading flows naturally.
The Wolves of St. Peter's is therefore a novel for everyone, but is particularly highly recommended for people who love historical mystery stories.
--Letteratura + Cinema (Italy) on the Italian version, I Lupi del Vaticano
"The romantic and somewhat gothic setting of corrupt, Renaissance Rome in 1508 sets the tone for this captivating murder mystery and the writers’ inclusion of humour at key points in the story perfectly balances the dour atmosphere in which the main characters find themselves. I must say that I didn’t solve the mystery myself until it was revealed near the end of the book. This is an immensely satisfying read for fans of historical fiction or Renaissance Italy and the artists of its time that would translate delightfully into a stunning feature film."
--Scully Love Promo
"The Wolves of St. Peter’s is a compelling mystery, full of twists and turns. Nothing – and no one – is what it seems. In what I consider the mark of a good mystery, the truth did not enter my mind as a possibility until the shortly before it was revealed. The characters are beautifully drawn. The historical detail is rich and, I suspect, more accurate than in most historical novels. The reader experiences the full spectrum of life in sixteenth century Rome – the pollution in the Tiber, the squalor of shacks being built willy-nilly against private homes (narrowing the streets and inconveniencing residents who can no longer use the front door), the stench of raw sewage. This is contrasted nicely by the splendour of the Vatican and elite of the city. The dichotomy in personality and lifestyle between the two artists, Michelangelo and Raphael, further emphasizes this contrast.... Very enjoyable."
"The Wolves of St. Peter’s was not a book that was on my radar before I read it, but after finishing it I have to say it was a great read with a mystery twist that keeps you hanging on right to the very end....Apart from the book being wonderful all on its own, I love to be able to support, and recognize, local authors. Buonaguro, from Toronto, and Kirk, from my hometown of Kingston, take the age-old tale of a man who cannot have the woman he loves and spin it anew with thrilling suspense and a full parade of imaginative characters. They take a place and historical period which is ripe with creative possibilities (in my mind at least) and write a story that is gripping, saturated with remarkable characters in a city that has a life of its own. It makes me wish, and search, for more books like this to feed my literary hunger for Italy, artists and secrecy."
--Devon – a1000booklife
"I love a book that easily blends fictional characters with historical ones in such a manner that you begin to wonder if they were, perhaps, a real person. I also love it when historical figures are brought to glorious life on the pages, making you feel like you know them. Gina and Janice easily do both of these things on the pages of this book. Not only that, but the character development is excellent – no cookie-cutter, one-dimensional characters to be found! The book flows easily and keeps the reader fully engulfed from start to finish. Having read all of the books these two authors have co-written, I can honestly call myself a fan. Check out their other books (especially THE SIDEWALK ARTIST!) - you won’t be disappointed.
--Martina - Book Drunkard
INTERVIEWS and OTHER
Interview in the National Post: They are not alone
Adorable pets and the crime writers who love them CBC Books, Canada Writes (flip through to see Janice with cats Toby and Tucker)