A Murder in Tuscany
A Murder in Tuscany
Minotaur Books, Hardcover, 9780312621025, 336pp.
Publication Date: August 2, 2011
Sandro Cellini, P. I., Florence’s answer to Donna Leon’s Guido Brunetti, returns in this atmospheric mystery set in a forbidding castle. As Sandro Cellini comes to grips with the tough realities of life as a private detective, touting for business among old contacts and following errant teenagers, an old case comes back to haunt him.
Once the subject of a routine background check back in Sandro’s earliest days as a private investigator, the glamorous, charming, and ruthless Loni Meadows, the director of an American-Italian artistic retreat in a castle in the hills outside Florence, goes off the icy road in her car one night. The circumstances of her death seem less than accidental to Sandro. However inconvenient his suspicions might be, both to Sandro—whose marriage appears to be disintegrating in the aftermath of his wife’s illness—and to Meadows’s erstwhile employers, the detective presses on. As he attempts to uncover the truth of Meadows’s violent and lonely death, Sandro finds himself drawn into the lives of the castle’s highly strung community and the closed world they inhabit in the isolated Etruscan hills of the Maremma.
Reminiscent of a locked-room mystery in the style of Agatha Christie, A Murder in Tuscany leads the reader from one possible perpetrator to the next; to Sandro’s chagrin, all of the artists in residence at the time of Loni’s demise had more than enough reason to dislike her. But who in the group had the most compelling motive to want her dead?
Kent is a masterful investigator of character and mood, and her second mystery conveys the gloom of the Orfeo castle as well as the individual dark lives of its inhabitants in a chilling, memorable way.
Christobel Kent was born in London and grew up in London and Essex, including a stint on the Essex coast on a Thames barge with three siblings and four step-siblings, before reading English at Cambridge. She has worked in publishing and TEFL teaching, and has lived in Modena, in northern Italy, and in Florence. She has written five novels set in Italy and now lives in Cambridge with her husband and five children.
"Kent combines rich atmospherics and fully realized characters with a deceptively simple puzzle in her outstanding second mystery featuring Italian PI Sandro Cellini. Cellini blends the disingenuous cleverness of a Columbo with the world-weary awareness of how things really work of Donna Leon's Guido Brunetti. The sleuth's ingenious detection of evidence pointing toward foul play portends a long and successful series run. Louise Penny fans will find a lot to like." --Publishers Weekly (starred review) "Cellini is a fascinating character, morose yet strong, suited for far more than the surveillance of a teen girl, his current job, but he brings his all to it. Kent delivers an ingenious country-house mystery here, complete with Agatha Christie byplay among the clashing characters and spiked by the acerbic, witty presence of Cellini." -- Booklist
“Its dark . . . setting and shady characters creat[e] a truly compelling atmosphere, ably assisted by Kent’s taut and convincing prose. This combination proves irresistible, making A Murder in Tuscany an elegant and beautifully constructed mystery. Christobel Kent’s novels are not quite like any others in mystery fiction. She creates characters that stay with you and places them in situations that ooze suspense and tension—and nowhere is this gift better expressed than in A Murder in Tuscany. If you’re looking for an intelligent crime novelist, Christobel Kent is a great new discovery.” —Booktime
“[A]nother absorbing mystery from Kent, in which the cloistered, claustrophobic world of the castle perfectly complements her intense, observational style.” —Yorkshire Evening Post
“A convincing, atmospheric, and darkly thrilling novel.” —The Good Book Guide
“A Murder in Tuscany should slip down like a fine glass of Prosecco.” —Allison Pearson, author of I Don’t Know How She Does It