The Dark Heart of Florence by Tasha Alexander
A classic cozy whodunit with Florence both modern and Renaissance, hidden treasure, murder most foul, a soupcon of romance and some fun facts about the times of the infamous monk Savanarola
For those familiar with the Elizabeth Peters “Emerson and Peabody” mysteries, this should provide a welcome treat. The combination of history, romance and murder combine to provide a savory confection perfect for leisure reading.
In this case, a story that alternates between Florence in the late 15th century and the early 20th is replete with the usual suspects; the Medicis, Savanarola, Botticelli, the Pazzis, and all the rest. Reference is made to the infamous Bonfire of the Vanities which lays the groundwork for a tale of hidden artworks and jewelry tempting (relatively) modern acquisitors to vile deeds. Set with the backdrop of Brunelleschi’s dome at Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiori, the church of Santa Croce with its tombs of famous Florentines and the charming city itself, plenty of entertainment is be found.
Lady Emily Hargreaves and her erstwhile and noble husband Colin, an agent of the Crown are lodged in a palazzo once inhabited by a Renaissance woman of tragic circumstances. As a plot unfurls that threatens the security of England and perhaps the world, we are simultaneously plunged into a search for precious antiquities secreted from the agents of the fevered monk who sought to purge worldly vanity from Florence, by violence if necessary. How these stories of different times and purposes progresses, the suspense increases by stages leading to a denouement that will satisfy any cozy whodunit reader.
With a light touch and just enough history to maintain verisimilitude, the author has presented a classic murder mystery with all the bells and whistles to which we are accustomed. Excellent light reading with a side order of true facts gives a perfect blend of fun and education. Recommended to all readers of the genre.