Have you ever read a book so good, you wanted to read it again? Me, too! And in two different mediums as well. My first reading of Paul Adam’s book, The Rainaldi Quartet was on Kindle for PC, a couple of years ago. Then, last year, imagine my surprise at finding it in print at a library book sale. Score! Add book to physical home library shelf. Check.
This is the first of two books focused on Gianni and Guastefeste. Both books are set in Italy. Cremona, to be exact. And they both have famous violins at their center. Now, before you skip through and think this is another dramatic book with music at its core, let me reveal the true joy for me of these books. They are mysteries! Or rather, murder mysteries with a hearty dose of violin history. Under the imprint Felony & Mayhem, the focus of these books is that they are set in locations outside the U.S., Canada, and England.
Signor Rainaldi, Father Arrighi, Gianni Castiglione, and Antonio Guastafeste are members of a quartet who come together once a week to play. Gianni and Tomaso Rainaldi are luthiers, makers and repairers of violins, Guastefeste, the police detective and Father Arrighi, the local priest round out the string quartet.
Rainaldi, full of life at Gianni’s place as they play classical music, is found dead later that night. What begins as an unsolved murder, soon leads to the mystery Rainaldi was trying to solve before he was killed – where is and who has The Messiah’s Sister, a masterpiece violin crafted by “Del Gesu” Guarneri.
Enter shady violin dealers, auction houses, trips to Venice and England, an odiferous violin collector who doesn’t play, but wants only to have violins to get the ball rolling. Soon, there are letters between famous violin makers, illusions to and discoveries of fake masterpieces, and a twist to the solution of a second murder. Felony and mayhem, right? You bet!
They say you should hook the reader with the first line, and in this book, Adam’s has done just that. Wouldn’t you want to keep reading if you read the following “You expect the momentous events in life to provide some kind of warning.”
The fact I have now read this book twice, notwithstanding, is probably a good indicator of my overall opinion. But here’s what I ended up discovering. While I found it just as enjoyable as the first time around, I now read the book like a writer.
It was the author’s descriptions which I believe really set him apart. Though the story is told simply, it is his turns of phrase, which make you pause for a just a second and think, “what a great way to say that!”
My only regret is that there aren’t more books like this by Paul Adam. The second book is Paganini’s Ghost. If you love music, mystery, and Italy, then you’re in for a treat.
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© Lisa Street Rogers 2019