Longing for Florence or Venice?
“The Raven may have bitten off a bigger bite than even he can swallow – two desperate men and a young woman out to claim her destiny. That’s a powerful force to push back against.”
This excerpt from Midnight Angels might not make the annals of great literature. However, “lost” sculptures of Michelangelo, creepy and powerful secret societies, art historian Kate Westcott, and the streets of Florence all appear in this escapist book. Author Lorenzo Carcaterra always seems to keep one eye on the possibility of a film script as he concocts rooftop chases and bloody bathroom fight scenes
I wanted a few more details about the verisimilitude of this Italian city of Florence, so I delved into Carcaterra’s background. But I found superficial gloss with two unrelated recipes thrown in to sweeten the searching reader: Dorothy’s Semifreddo and Festive Shortbread Cookies. “Huh?”
Contrast with Donna Leon’s Venice
In comparison to Carcaterra’s unrelenting pace, I find Donna Leon’s books set in Venice redolent with nuance, much like the city herself. Granted, Donna Leon has written 19 novels featuring Commissario Guido Brunetti, including the latest, A Question of Belief. The buildings, piazzas, campos and restaurants of Venice are even delineated on Landmarks in Brunetti’s Venice.
More Importantly, a Sense of Character
This mystery series is so plausible as the reader participates in Brunetti’s family meals with his “feisty” wife Paola and their two teenaged children. Leon describes her main character’s unfolding over the many novels she’s penned – “Well, he’s a grown-up and he has a life.” Read the complete and candid interview on Leon’s website, as well as quirky lists of Leon’s likes and dislikes.
As a member of two book clubs, Karen Y. reads frantically, looking for structure, meaning, and the author's intent. Materials related to Japan, food, arts and crafts, travel, and style attract her like a magnet.