Discover more from A Book For Ants: Bite-Sized Reviews of Snack-Sized Books
THREE FIRES by Denise Mina
Bringing crime writer Denise Mina on-board for Polygon’s magnificent Darkland Tales series has proven truly inspired. Not only did we end up with the excellent Rizzio, but Mina also now seems hooked on the path of short, sharp, and unflinchingly brutal historical stories. It’s one hell of a side hustle. Moving away from Scotland to fifteenth century Florence, Three Fires recounts the spectacular rise and fall of the mad Dominican monk, Girolamo Savonarola. If the name isn’t familiar, the historical episode most certainly is; Savonarola was the unhinged zealot responsible for the Bonfire of the Vanities.
Tracing his trajectory from well-meaning friar to maniacal machiavellian schemer, Three Fires unspools a man who would happily kill in the name of purity and virtuousness. It’s a brilliant study of power’s ability to corrupt on the personal and collective levels, as well as a sobering commentary on the gullibility of the masses in the face of a charismatic psycho. Mina is not subtle in her contemporary allusions. Indeed, she is prone to modern-day metaphors, something that threatens, at times, to break the historical immersion. Dripping with gore and all manner of horrors, Three Fires is, quite literally, a bloody great book.
Three Fires by Denise Mina