More death in Florence

I wasn't exactly blown away by the former Head of the Florence Flying Squad, Michele Giuttari's first novel A Florentine Death, but, as I mentioned at the time, I enjoyed it enough to want to give the rest of the series a go. So when I happened to see the fourth novel in the series, the attractively named Black Rose of Florence, I couldn't resist.

It's not the sort of novel that you would want to read on the eve of a visit to this most beautiful of cities, as the Florentine body count rises, and the deaths become ever more peculiar with the possibility of links to Freemasonry and a coven of Florentine Satanists. All this along with beautiful women bizarrely murdered, machinations in high places (including one of the most unreal English upper-crust-caricatures you could hope to meet), suitably gruesome goings-on, and a chunk of symbolism lifted straight from the Da Vinci code. It's all a bit over the top really and supremely daft.

Having said which, I actually quite enjoyed it. It cracks along at a great pace with short, cliff-hanging chapters. It's great fun but is completely mad. Nothing really makes sense from the professional assassin with a sideline in his own personal revenge (which seems to involve the victim as much as the perpetrator), and a liking for the police, to the usual silly Masonic business, and a fox-hunting upper-class twit with a penchant for beagles.

It's disappointing. One would hope that with Giuttari's background, he would be a writer more in the style of Kathy Reichs. Instead the reader ends up with a rather odd cross between Donna Leon (like Leon Giuttari does food and Italian cities beautifully) but with the characterisation and plausibility of Dan Brown. For a quick fun read guaranteed to take your mind off that aching tooth or the fact that you really hate flying this is probably the novel for you, just don't expect anything bordering on reality...


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