His­tor­i­cal fic­tion

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A Name in Blood Matt Rees, Allen & Un­win, $29.99 Best known for a de­tec­tive se­ries set in Pales­tine, Matt Rees has di­gressed by nov­el­is­ing the life of Ital­ian pain­ter Car­avag­gio who rev­o­lu­tionised reli­gious art with his rad­i­cal nat­u­ral­ism and dra­matic use of light. He has con­founded his­to­ri­ans by ap­par­ently dis­ap­pear­ing in 1610. Read­ers may find the au­thor’s reimag­in­ing of this event con­trived and less plau­si­ble than the usual ex­pla­na­tion that the artist sim­ply suc­cumbed to the plague. The book shines in its evo­ca­tion of Rome, from the gran­deur of its cathe­drals and palaz­zos to the slums and drink­ing dives with their beg­gars, cut throats and whores Car­avag­gio of­ten used as his mod­els. The au­thor also suc­ceeds in shin­ing a light into the artist’s dark mind. John Fitzger­ald

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