Published Jan 2010
This book introduces Sandro Cellini, ex-cop and private detective, Florence’s answer to Donna Leon’s “Guido Brunetti”. One wet November in Florence, the grieving widow of an eminent Jewish architect comes to visit Sandro Cellini, good husband and disgraced ex-policeman, to ask him to investigate her husband’s suicide. Cellini takes her on out of sympathy: this first case though makes a downbeat start to his new career as a private detective. There seems no doubt that Claudio Gentileschi, a Holocaust survivor and lifelong depressive found drowned on a bleak stretch of the River Arno, did take his own life, and initially Cellini imagines that his only duty is to support the widow through her time of mourning. But as Cellini doggedly retraces the architect’s last hours through the worst rains since the devastating floods of 1966, a young woman is found to have gone missing from the city’s community of hard-drinking, high-living art students, and Sandro’s search turns abruptly into something grimmer and more urgent than he could have imagined…
I loved this book and hated putting it down. It is both a taut thriller and a beautifully observed story of a young woman’s coming of age. Michael Dibdin meets Muriel Spark.