Meet D V Bishop – The Darkest Sin

Article | Issue: May 2022

D V Bishop has been involved in creative work for decades. He was a comics writer and editor (‘Judge Dredd’) in the 1990s then an award-winning screenwriter and dramatist.

His first historical novel, City of Vengeance, was shortlisted for the 2021 Wilbur Smith Adventure Writing Prize.

The Darkest Sin continues Cesare Aldo’s escapades.


What drew you to the setting of Renaissance Florence?

Renaissance Florence as a setting was sparked by chance. I was in a bookshop and picked up an academic text about Florence’s criminal justice system in the 16th century. It fell open at a page where one sentence caught my eye. It said law enforcement in the city ‘was roughly comparable to that of a modern police force’. Right there, I started imagining crime stories set in Renaissance Florence. What I didn’t realise was how much research I’d need to do. I spent years reading about the period, the city, how ordinary people lived. Eventually I realised I would have to write the book to find what I needed to know.


Crime fiction is often (wrongly) considered to be all about plot, yet many readers love it most for the characters, settings, or the issues it explores. What was primary for you – the character of Cesare Aldo, the whodunnit, or the Renaissance Florence setting?

After choosing Renaissance Florence as a setting, I knew my detective, Cesare Aldo, would work for the city’s most feared criminal court, the Otto di Guardia e Balia. I spent a long time developing his character.

He can fit into every level of Florentine society, from the richest palazzo to the most disreputable tavern. But it was Aldo’s sexuality that unlocked his potential. He is a gay man, though such terms didn’t exist in 1536. As an officer of the court, his sexuality means he’s on the wrong side of the law. That makes Aldo an outsider, standing apart from Renaissance society, seeing all its flaws and beauty. The central plot for City of Vengeance was based on real events, a conspiracy to overthrow the Medici ruler of Florence, so history provided my timetable.


City of Vengeance was touted from early on as ‘the first in a new series’ – when did you know you wanted to write more than one book about Cesare Aldo?

I always intended to write a series of ‘Cesare Aldo’ novels set in and around Renaissance Florence. He’s a complicated character with plenty of contradictions. Aldo enforces the law, yet his sexuality makes him a criminal. He has his own sense of justice, his own moral code that doesn’t always align with the law. There are hints of his backstory in City of Vengeance, but readers will learn a lot more about him in the new ‘Cesare Aldo’ novel, The Darkest Sin. I was writing that during all the lockdowns here in Britain. In my new book, a body is found, brutally stabbed, in a convent in Florence’s northern quarter and Cesare Aldo discovers a community full of bitter rivalries and dark secrets. Unthinkable as it seems, evidence suggests one of the nuns must be the killer. 



D V Bishop is the author of the Cesare Aldo mysteries set in Renaissance Florence, published by Pan Macmillan. An award-winning screenwriter and TV dramatist, his love for the city of Florence and the Renaissance period meant there could only be one setting for his crime-fiction debut.

He was awarded a Robert Louis Stevenson Fellowship by the Scottish Book Trust in 2017 while writing the first Cesare Aldo novel, City of Vengeance. Bishop won the Pitch Perfect competition at the 2018 Bloody Scotland international crime fiction festival.

He was shortlisted for the 2021 Wilbur Smith Adventure Writing Prize, won the 2022 NZ Booklovers Award for Best Adult Novel and is shortlisted for the 2023 CWA Historical Dagger. His novels have also been longlisted for the CWA Gold Dagger, and the Ngaio Marsh Award for Best Novel.

Visit D V Bishop’s website


Author: D. V. Bishop

Category: Crime & mystery, Historical fiction, Thriller / suspense

Book Format: Paperback / softback

Publisher: Macmillan

ISBN: 9781529038835

RRP: $22.99

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