Ave Maria

A Neil Baggio Suspense (Neil Baggio Series)

Fiction - Mystery - Sleuth
392 Pages
Reviewed on 10/14/2020
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Christian Sia for Readers' Favorite

Ave Maria: A Neil Baggio Suspense by Charles D’Amico is a compelling novel that will appeal to fans of sleuth and mystery. When Neil Baggio receives a call in the middle of the night from the headmaster of his old high school, James Glowacki, he is at a loss over what to think. Then, the headmaster tells him about the murder of Andrew, an exchange student from Poland. He was found hanging in his room and everyone believes it is suicide. But, Andrew isn’t the kind of person to commit suicide. Neil Baggio suddenly finds himself involved in an investigation that brings him in the crosshairs of the Catholic Church and that has him flying to Europe in pursuit of a lead. Can he uncover the truth about the murder before the truth gets buried?

Charles D’Amico has written a novel with a powerful hook, a premise that pulled me in immediately. The author immediately shows the link the protagonist has with St. Mary’s and this explains why the case becomes personal for him. The characters are well-developed and apart from Neil Baggio, I enjoyed following Nicolette Milewski, a fascinating character, and her cousin, Christian. The writing is powerful and the prose flows flawlessly. The author doesn’t miss strong moments of humor, like what Neil thinks when he receives the call from Glow. The pacing is fast. The conflict is deftly written and it is interesting how Neil challenges the Catholic Church. Ave Maria: A Neil Baggio Suspense features compelling characters, a strong plot, and it provides a wonderful reading experience for readers.

Tiffany Ferrell

Neil Baggio is a consultant for the FBI, making a name for himself when he captured notorious serial killer Franklin Cappelano. Currently in business with his friend Ken, the two make up Baggio and Chamberlain Inc. Everything is going smoothly until he gets an urgent call from the headmaster of his old high school. Upon arriving at St. Mary’s, Neil finds himself in the middle of a crime scene where a recently graduated Polish boy apparently committed suicide. The headmaster doesn’t believe the boy's death is a suicide and after checking out the scene of the crime, Baggio is convinced it wasn’t either. Deciding he needs to get to the bottom of this mystery, Neil enlists some FBI friends to help with the task. What he doesn’t expect is that the Catholic Church is obviously trying to cover the boy's death up and that they are on to him.

I really like the way that Charles D’Amico set up this narrative for Ave Maria. It definitely had that fun detective Dan Brown vibe to it, but more unique and with an almost comic edge. You really get to know the main character Neil as you step into his shoes when telling the story. He’s a very likable and relatable character and it’s intriguing to read the book from the main character's point of view. The other characters are equally interesting and well thought out. The plot itself is different from other crime books that I have read. I really like how Ave Maria has the church involved somehow in the crime and it’s Neil’s job to figure out what they are hiding. D’Amico has created a gripping crime mystery that keeps you on your toes right till the end. It’s a book I would definitely recommend to others. Also, I am looking forward to reading the author's other works.

Rabia Tanveer

Ave Maria: A Neil Baggio Suspense is the second novel in the Neil Baggio Series by Charles D'Amico. Neil Baggio was surprised when he received a call from Orchard Lake St. Mary’s High School. His beloved literature teacher, James “Glow” Glowacki, was now the headmaster of the high school, and he had a favor to ask. Andrew, an exchange student at the high school, was found dead. The police were ruling the case as a suicide, but Glow believed something was fishy. So, Neil picked up the case and started to dig deeper. However, the deeper he dug, the more baffling this new case became. All the clues pointed him towards the Catholic Church, but surprisingly, he found no connection. Someone was trying to sweep all the clues away before Neil could get to them. It was now up to Neil and his team to find them and solve this case before it was too late.

Ave Maria by Charles D'Amico is a hard-hitting story with a lot of poetic justice and karma. I loved the chase and the race against time. Neil was a hero that drove the plot and led it from the front. He was analytical, observant, and above all, smart. Neil understood the situation far better than I anticipated and I enjoyed his go-getter attitude the most. While he was my favorite character in the story, Nicolette became a close second. She was spunky and sassy; her attitude was sharp and gave Neil a run for his money. The action was relentless, the pace was fast, and the plot itself was brilliantly handled. The mystery behind Andrew’s death was smartly handled too. This is an intense yet entertaining novel.

Susan Sewell

A high school student is found dead, and the police have ruled it a suicide, but a skeptical headmaster asks a private investigator to uncover the truth in the sleuth mystery novel Ave Maria (A Neil Baggio Suspense) by Charles D'Amico. When Andrew is found dead in his Catholic school dorm room, private investigator Neil Baggio is contacted by the headmaster to determine whether or not he killed himself. Because the scene is so clean, neither the headmaster nor Neil believe Andrew died by his own hand. However, the Archdiocese has invoked a decree of silence regarding the affair, and no one will speak to Neil or his team of investigators. In the meantime, Andrew's mother, who worked at the school to pay his tuition, has been quickly moved to an undisclosed location by church officials, hindering any attempt to question her. With so few leads to follow, Neil's highly trained team scrambles to find a possible killer before all traces of Andrew's identity disappear. With the church blocking their every move and the clock racing against them, can Neil and his colleagues uncover the motive behind Andrew's death? And in the process, find out why the Catholic church is conspiring to keep Andrew's identity under wraps?

Ave Maria (A Neil Baggio Suspense) by Charles D'Amico is a suspenseful mystery novel that finishes against the rich backdrop of Poland. Brimming with soliloquies and backstories relating to the main character's life, the plot's elements of suspense and intrigue slowly build to ultimately reach an exciting and unexpected conclusion. It is an entertaining suspense novel that will interest those who enjoy sleuth mysteries based on secrets and conspiracies. For being the second book in a series, the story does fairly well, but I think it would enhance the reader's experience to read the thrilling first book, Veritas.

Ruffina Oserio

Ave Maria: A Neil Baggio Suspense by Charles D’Amico is a well-plotted and ingeniously narrated story that melds crime, mystery, and suspense, following the indefatigable detective Neil Baggio. It begins when the headmaster of his old high school calls Neil in the middle of the night. He has always been fond of St. Mary’s. James Glowacki tells him about the mysterious death of Andrew, a Polish exchange student. Andrew was found hanging in his room and it was immediately ruled out as suicide. The headmaster thinks differently, so Neil starts an investigation with very few clues and has to navigate a complex world where he even questions the probity of Catholic Church representatives. Can he uncover the face of the killer and bring the truth to light?

It is a well-written story with memorable characters and a solid plot. I loved the way Charles D’Amico writes motivation in the characters. For instance, Neil might have dismissed the case, but the request coming from a man he has known since high school, his literature teacher, and involving a murder committed against one of the students from his former alumni, wins his heart. The reader feels as if the protagonist is out to defend not just his love for St. Mary’s but the values of the school. The story is written in beautiful prose, and I enjoyed the descriptions and the dialogues. The handling of character is impeccable. Nicolette was one of my favorite characters. I also enjoyed the fact that the author weaves very interesting background information about the characters without veering off the plot points, and this makes it easier for readers to get acquainted with Neil Baggio, especially those who haven’t read the other works from the author. Ave Maria: A Neil Baggio Suspense is suspenseful, engaging, and fast-paced. It reads well as a standalone novel.