WHODUNIT This mystery, with its string of historical figures, makes 16th-century Italian politics thrilling

The Malice of Fortune

Nothing says ”back to school” quite like The Malice of Fortune, a hefty novel about the politics of 16th-century Italy. Luckily, this one reads like a pulpy mystery. Inspired by the real-life assassination of Juan Borgia, an illegitimate son of Pope Alexander VI, and a series of serial-killer murders, the story follows Borgia’s mistress Damiata and Niccolò Machiavelli, future author of The Prince, as they investigate these crimes with help from Leonardo da Vinci, who works for the Pope’s surviving son, Valentino. It’s a thrilling whodunit — and a pretty good primer on da Vinci’s ”science of observation” as well as Machiavelli’s ”science of man.” B+

The Malice of Fortune
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