A borrowed name creates confusion — and more so when the actual Claudio is found dead in the bushes beside a major city thoroughfare. A bevy of supporting characters, strong women. Sandro is a safe and comfortable hero. Sandro Cellini is a retired Italian policeman who has opened up a private investigation agency with the support of his beautiful wife, Luisa, as well as wily assistant, Guili. What is this obsession with numbers? Sandro Cellini will not be joining the crowds of holidaymakers this year. At the same time a teller in a small provincial bank notices the disappearance of a regular customer and then the body of her manager is discovered on a local roundabout.
Apparently Florence is very hot in August; it seemed as if the weather was a major character in this story. As all Florence sweats it out, Cellini attempts to grapple with his case and the complications it throws up. Tonight there is a breath of hot wind, a Saharan wind that carries with it tiny particles of sand that will be found the next morning along windscreen wipers. He brought me flowers once. A young, pregnant woman has approached him desperately wanting help finding her missing fiancé.
If Maria Grazia was even there. Kent brings her characters to rich and convincing life amid story lines full of subtlety and surprise. A valiant man, but coming apart at the seams. A silk-socked foot, shoeless; a dark trouser leg, stained darker higher on the leg with a colour that will not be distinguishable against the grey until dawn comes. At one different point in the story - there were a minimum of 6 people working on this one case.
But the mystery was well-plotted and I like the protagonist. He would spend the first half an hour of each morning brushing himself down after the ride in on his big Triumph, examining the creases in his sharp wool trousers, adjusting the angle of his tie. This Brit author knows the city. I didn't think this was up to the standard of Donna Leon, with her series set in Venice, but interesting to read about modern Florence. Some reviews of this author's previous books in this series suggest that they weren't quite as good as this one, but I'm going to go backward and get them anyway.
Florence, too, springs vividly from the page, evoked with sharp observation and an admirable absence of cliché. Luca in London, twenty-nine and working in a bar, clubbing till dawn most nights, taking God knew what illicit substances — but Luca could do no wrong. Characters are real and likeable, setting is fantastic, and I really do need to get back to Florence. My God, thought Sandro, and he took an awkward step back, suddenly nervous as a cat at the sight that presented itself. The characters are excellently rendered.
It was simply that the answer was to be wary, and to pay attention to the detail. No one with any sense, tourists and the characters in this book excepted, stay in Florence during August. I got it, the first 50 times I heard it. I think the sense of place is less distinct than in Donna Leon's Commissario Brunetti novels. Sandro Cellini will not be joining the crowds of holidaymakers this year. The former policeman turned private detective has a case: a man who seems to have vanished into thin air - leaving his pregnant young wife alone in the city.
I am very partial to character driven crime fiction, and Christobel Kent is an excellent practitioner of the genre. It is Giuli who brings Sandro a new client - Anna, a young, naive and very pregnant woman who is worried about her missing fiancee who has told her he is a bank manager. I received a digital advanced reading copy from NetGalley. The answer, she supposed, was yes: there were always some people desperate enough. Of course the heat also gets to the several women filling various roles in this mystery.
Anna had smiled, still trusting, and Sandro had felt his gloom grow. For Roxana, who liked things the way she liked them, August in the city was a nightmare. Florence in August is awful. Only the dregs of society found themselves sitting at a desk in August, only the driven and desperate and enslaved. I started skipping paragraphs at a time because the heat was mentioned more than any thing else in the book. Kids playing in the garden, a shiny car. The weather is very hot and very humid and those that can escape to the coast where it is cooler.