The Kingdom of Light by Giulio Leoni and Shaun Whiteside

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The Kingdom of Light by Giulio Leoni and Shaun Whiteside

Category: Crime (Historical)
Rating: 3/5
Reviewer: Elaine Dingsdale
Reviewed by Elaine Dingsdale
Summary: Famous poet Dante is at present the prior of Florence, which gives him responsibility for investigating crime. Several murders occur in quick succession - there must be a connection… but how, why?
Buy? No Borrow? Yes
Pages: 416 Date: November 2010
Publisher: Vintage
ISBN: 978-0099516460

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Famous poet Dante is at present the prior of Florence, which gives him responsibility for investigating crime. Several murders occur in quick succession - there must be a connection… but how, why? I approached this book with excitement. The underlying premise seemed to be interesting - take a famous character and place them in situations unknown to us. The portents were good! (Can you feel, a but?)

Unfortunately, this did not live up to its promise. Its started out well, with an abandoned ship, peopled by a dead crew - gripping stuff. Some of the descriptions were horrific and graphic, and I hoped and expected that the tone had been set for the remainder of the book. However, the plot soon stagnated into a rather boring series of murders which of course had to be interconnected - and frankly, the speculation as to the whys and wherefores wasn't exactly challenging. The finer points may not have been patently obvious, but overall there was little mystery as to where the plot was leading.

I was tempted because of this to give it an even lower star rating. However, the final quarter or so of the novel did see the pace pick up somewhat, which redeemed it in part. It could be that subsequent novels in the series sees the author get more into stride with this novel idea - it certainly has promise. But that promise was far from realised in this second book in the series.

The characters were reasonably well depicted, which lifted the interest level somewhat - unfortunately most of the interesting characters were murdered, so no hope of them reappearing in the future! Dante himself seemed rather nebulous - and I think the lack of substance to his character was the biggest disappointment. It may be that readers more familiar with Italian literature would derive more from this aspect - I had hoped and expected some insights into his writings, but this happened very rarely. There were obscure allusions to his work, and a preface highlighting/expalining them would have been useful for the less knowledgeable reader.

Some of the historical and philosophical background made interesting reading, and it was good to be able to place the novel in context of its time. The author did this well, which once again, is why I feel that the series itself does have a certain promise. Will I read the third? Possibly, as I rarely walk away from an author on the basis of one book. But this simply didn't grab and excite me in the way I had hoped - it should have done, but sadly, it fell short of the mark on all counts. Even the descriptive scenes of the countryside/town (which can often add another angle of interest), were sadly lacking in this novel. Disappointing, would be my overall conclusion.

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

If this book appeals then you might appreciate The Secret Supper by Javier Sierra.

Buy The Kingdom of Light by Giulio Leoni and Shaun Whiteside at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Kingdom of Light by Giulio Leoni and Shaun Whiteside at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy The Kingdom of Light by Giulio Leoni and Shaun Whiteside at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Kingdom of Light by Giulio Leoni and Shaun Whiteside at Amazon.com.


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