A Fine and Private Place (Sandro Cellini) by Christobel Kent

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A Fine and Private Place (Sandro Cellini) by Christobel Kent

Category: Crime
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: The second book in the Sandro Cellini series works well as a stand alone. I liked the characterisation and the location but the plot was a little slow to pick up pace.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Yes
Pages: 320 Date: May 2010
Publisher: Atlantic
ISBN: 978-1848871519

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Sandro Cellini isn't too impressed with life as a private investigator and it's a big change from being in the police force. Somehow trailing a schoolgirl on the orders of her father who thinks she's mixing with bad company wasn't quite how he'd seen his life working out. His wife, Luisa, is recovering from cancer, but it seems to have changed her attitude to life and when she announces that she's going to New York on a business trip with her boss Cellini worries that he's going to lose her. Then another case comes up and it's one which stirs some memories. Doctor Loni Meadows has been discovered dead after what seems like a tragic motor accident but her husband isn't convinced and he'd like Cellini to investigate.

It's Florence. It's Tuscany but this isn't the heat of the summer but rather the dead of winter and the accident took place near the isolated castle out in the hills where Meadows was the director of an artistic Trust. Forget all the visions you have of Florence and the Tuscan hillsides and think of snow and ice - and a property which is so isolated that it feels more like a prison and it's difficult for Cellini to see how it inspires the artists who are resident there. Even before you add in the Director's death the feeling is sinister and Christobel Kent is a master of keeping that shiver ready to run down your spine.

Then there are the people. I suppose the obvious comparison with Cellini is Aurelio Zen, but Cellini is fundamentally a decent man, whereas Zen always kept that air of not being quite above board. He's closer in personality to Donna Leon's Commissario Guido Brunetti and gives that same feeling of being real if occasionally a little dull. The real strength is in the female characters: Luisa along with Cellini's sidekick, Giuli came off the page as did Cate, a member of staff at the Castle Orfeo. Kent's also done a good job of creating a varied cast of artistic residents at the castle, managing - just - to keep them this side of caricature.

The plot was a little slow to pick up pace. I didn't really feel engaged with what was happening until more than half way through and the denouement gave me the feeling that we were working through everyone until we came up with the only one still standing. I do think though that there is a lot of possibility in the character and the location and I'm looking forward to reading the next in the series.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag.

For some real-life crime set in the same area we can recommend The Monster of Florence by Douglas Preston with Mario Spezi for a story which is more outlandish than any you'll find in crime fiction.

Christobel Kent's Sandro Cellini Mysteries in Chronological Order

Buy A Fine and Private Place (Sandro Cellini) by Christobel Kent at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy A Fine and Private Place (Sandro Cellini) by Christobel Kent at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy A Fine and Private Place (Sandro Cellini) by Christobel Kent at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy A Fine and Private Place (Sandro Cellini) by Christobel Kent at Amazon.com.


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