CHRISTOBEL KENT’S intuitive Italian sleuth Sandro Cellini has proved to be one of the most distinctive coppers on the crime scene.
Readers may feel that the sweltering heat of Florence offers a refreshing change from the frigid temperatures of the current Scandinavian wave.
The unrelenting August sun is beating down on the streets of Florence, leaving them deserted as the inhabitants escape to the cooler countryside and coast.
Cellini, now a private detective with his days on the force behind him, is unable to join the mass getaway to where the cool sea breezes beckon as he has a case. He has been hired by a heavily pregnant young woman concerned about the disappearance of her fianceì.
There are other things disturbing the peace of the empty city such as the distended body of a bank manager which has been discovered in the grass on a roundabout, initially thought to be the victim of a hit-and-run driver. Bank cashier Roxana Delfino is worried by the wavering mental faculties of her elderly mother while also noting the disappearance of a regular client of the bank.
Cellini is to find that his investigations will open the proverbial can of worms and even though he is aided by a helpful team, his assistant Giuli, his wife Luisa and ex-partner Pietro from his police days, he soon begins to believe that he is out of his depth.
Earlier Cellini novels, notably A Time Of Mourning and A Fine And Private Place, marked the series out as one of the most individual and enjoyable in the field. The engaging Cellini, struggling to come to terms with a tragedy in his past, is a truly winning protagonist.
He is the perfect guide through this vividly realised Italian city. Florence itself, so evocatively described by Kent, provides much of the pleasure.
The Dead Season is published by Corvus