The Drowning River: A Mystery in Florence (Sandro Cellini)

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9780312621018: The Drowning River: A Mystery in Florence (Sandro Cellini)

Meet Sandro Cellini, 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, disgraced ex-policeman, and recently turned PI, to ask him to investigate her husband’s suicide. Cellini takes her on out of sympathy, although this first case makes a downbeat start to his new career. 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 Englishwoman 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, as he uncovers a network of greed and corruption that is hidden under a veneer of tradition and refinement.

The Drowning River is a spot-on, atmospheric new mystery, the first in a series featuring Cellini.

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About the Author:

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 four novels set in Italy and now lives in Cambridge with her husband and five children.

From Publishers Weekly:

Against a backdrop of the rising waters of the Arno in Florence, a recently disgraced police officer, Sandro Cellini, begins a new career as a PI in this slow-moving mystery from British author Kent (Late Season). While searching for Ronnie Hutton, a missing female art student from England, Sandro meets the insecure but attractive Iris March, Ronnie's roommate, in addition to a clutch of other young art students. Meanwhile, an intriguing older woman comes to Sandro for help in understanding why her husband committed suicide. Predictably, these two cases overlap. While the plot contains the right elements--sinister old-family Italians, evocative settings like the Boboli Gardens, and even a contessa--the story refuses to take wing. The threat of a flooding Arno may strike some as a superimposed device, though by the end it earns its place. Strong points include the gentle portrait of Sandro's marriage and the heartfelt relationship between Sandro and his old police partner, Pietro.
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