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the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction


The Hotel of the Three Roses

Augusto De Angelis

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To purchase The Hotel of the Three Roses

Title: The Hotel of the Three Roses
Author: Augusto De Angelis
Genre: Novel
Written: 1936 (Eng. 2016)
Length: 220 pages
Original in: Italian
Availability: The Hotel of the Three Roses - US
The Hotel of the Three Roses - UK
The Hotel of the Three Roses - Canada
L'Hôtel des trois roses - France
L'albergo delle Tre Rose - Italia
  • Italian title: L'albergo delle Tre Rose
  • Translated by Jill Foulston

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Our Assessment:

B : decent if somewhat crowded detective novel

See our review for fuller assessment.

Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
The Herald . 26/3/2016 Malcolm Forbes

  From the Reviews:
  • "De Angelis generates a deliciously dingy atmosphere, and his tight confines help heighten the tension. Occasionally his prose is marred by cliché (...) which may or may not be the handiwork of his otherwise excellent translator, Jill Foulston. But what is most striking throughout is De Vincenziís absolute blankness." - Malcolm Forbes, The Herald

Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review's biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do not claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers. Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole. We acknowledge (and remind and warn you) that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure.

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The complete review's Review:

       The Hotel of the Three Roses is set on a single December night in Milan in 1919. Inspector Carlo De Vincenzi is still new to the job and city -- he's only been here for three months -- and one of the reasons he's sent to investigate what is initially reported as a suicide at the notorious Hotel of the Three Roses is because, as his chief notes, he doesn't have any: "relationships with any of these people" -- the notable types who frequent the establishment.
       De Vincenzi finds a hanged man at the hotel, but it's clearly no suicide. He was strung up after his death -- in fact, long after his death, which must have occurred much earlier in the day.
       The hotel was already on De Vincenzi's radar because the police had just gotten a letter warning that: "a horrible drama is brewing" there, and he had already looked into who was staying there. The 'horrible drama' seems to have happened with the murder of the one young guest, but in fact it keeps on a fairly high boil even while De Vincenzi investigates. He spends the night following up on clues and interviewing guests and suspects -- but rather embarrassingly even the police presence and tight security can't prevent further attempts, successful and not, on several other guests' lives.
       De Vincenzi approaches the investigation with an open mind -- perhaps too open --, taking nothing for granted but also not jumping to conclusions. So when he is asked:

     "What do you think is going on ?"
     "I don't know. I don't think anything."
       This is the kind of novel where new facts are constantly being revealed, as De Vincenzi finds, for example:
With each step he took in the investigation, he found unexpected connections between all these people when it seemed there shouldn't be any.
       The arrival of Englishman Mr.Flemington -- who happens to be: "one of the best-known lawyers in London" -- and his wife in the middle of all this further complicates matters -- though it also clears a lot up, once De Vincenzi actually gets around to eliciting from the solicitor what his business is here. However, since he initially leaves it up to the lawyer -- "You don't want to tell me anything else, Mr Flemington ?" De Vincenzi politely asks, rather than insisting on answers -- it takes a while for the truth to emerge.
       Not surprisingly, the lawyer, and several of the guests, have all come to this hotel for the reading of a will -- to find out who inherits a fortune. And, of course, there's a story to that fortune too, which explains why some of the potential heirs are being knocked off. Among the other creepy oddities: three dolls that three of the guests have brought with them.
       The case slowly gets clearer:
The various people involved in the tragedy were beginning to assume clean outlines, to come to life in their contexts, illuminated by their pasts. But he still couldn't see it all clearly.
       Of course, eventually all the pieces of the rather elaborate story -- past and present -- fall into place, leading to the grand denouement (as De Vincenzi warns: "We're nearing the end, but the most dreadful thing is yet to come" ...).
       There are rather many guests (and hence suspects), and it takes a while to clear up all the identities and relationships -- even with the head-start De Vincenzi had -- making for a crowded mystery. The explanations, of what happened in the distant past and how that led to what happened on this night, make for a decent story, though certainly not one that a reader could untangle by themselves: De Angelis deliberately only reveals one important fact after another, not showing all his cards (as is appropriate in a novel where there is a lot of gambling going on, even as the investigation takes place) until the very end. The only really frustrating aspect to the actual detective-work is De Vincenzi's interviewing technique, as he questions many of those at the hotel, but lets them go without insisting they tell him everything, even when it's obvious to him that they are still keeping important information from him. (The lax policing, allowing for further murders, is also a bit disappointing.)
       De Angelis does better with atmosphere and character than actual mystery, and The Hotel of the Three Roses is mainly of interest and appeal for its presentation of the seedy hotel and the types it attracts. Somewhat overpopulated -- there are a lot of people there that night, and a lot of complex relationships -- the story is more elaborate and far-flung than De Angelis really seems up to, but otherwise it's a decent little mystery.

- M.A.Orthofer, 27 May 2016

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The Hotel of the Three Roses: Reviews: Other books by Augusto De Angelis under review: Other books of interest under review:

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About the Author:

       Italian author Augusto de Angelis lived 1888 to 1944.

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