Musicologist Caterina works for a shady lawyer and two dodgy cousins in a run down Foundation researching a baroque composer who may or may not have had a hand in the disappearance and probably murder of George I's wife's lover.
There are a number of nice features to this tale. Leon is a good writer if we are willing to overlook page 34 on which Caterina is "unwilling to admit to no motive higher than her own mounting curiosity"; surely this should be 'any'. She certainly doesn't have the style and the moral ambiguity of Aurelio Zen, who is also a Venetian, and she doesn't have the sense of being immersed in the history of a Robert Goddard (eg Found Wanting, Long Time Coming, Blood Count, or even the rather poor Fault Line). But she certainly packs in the detail, from the meals cooked and consumed by her heroine to the vaporetto number when travelling from one part of Venice to another to the careful description of the musical history and the process of historical research. There are a lot of moments which intrigue such as the size of the window in the little office (which plays no further part on the story) or the theft of the computer (which was presumably arranged for a purpose but plays no further part in the story). These things keep the reader going because you are expecting the game to be played properly in which the reader guesses the correct clues and avoids the red herrings (but they all seem to be red herrings).
None of this is enough to make up for the thumping disappointment of the climax. The denouement is preceded by a plot device so incredibly clichéd that it took my breath away. At the end one realises that nothing really happened and so what. And the intriguing details of the historical mystery are left high and dry with no solution offered at all.
Underwhelming. December 2013; 327 pages
- Having reviewed over 1200 books on this blog, I have now written two myself. Motherdarling is a story about a search for a missing Will which reveals long-hidden family secrets. The Kids of God is a thriller set in a dystopia ruled by fascist paramilitaries. Both are available as paperbacks and on Kindle through Amazon. I live in Canterbury, England. I lived for more than thirty years in Bedford. Having retired from teaching; I became a research student at the University of Bedfordshire researching into Liminality. I achieved my PhD in 2019. I am now properly retired. I love reading! I enjoy in particular fiction (mostly great and classic fiction although I also enjoy whodunnits), biography, history and smart thinking. Follow me on twitter: @daja57