Kent, Christobel - 'The Dead Season'
The story takes place in Florence in the hottest month of the year when people who are able to get away, leave the city. As more and more businesses close down for the season, the hot weather persists, making even the simplest activity difficult. The few sufferers left in the city long for the weather to break to settle the dust.
Sandro Cellini is a former policeman who is now earning his living as a private detective. When he is approached by his part-time assistant, Guili, to help find the fiance of Anna, he suspects that he will not earn a penny from the case. Anna is a very innocent young girl who is 8 months pregnant and is worried about Josef who has disappeared. Anna tells him the little she knows about Josef, whose full name is Claudio Josef Brunello, a bank manager for a little local bank. They were going to live in a beautiful apartment with a view of the hills, ideal for a small child to grow and play. Sandro considers it to be a typical case of a married man, having a fling and getting a young girl into trouble and then trying to ignore the problem.
Roxanna is an assistant at the Claudio's bank and is concerned for her mother, who insists that she has been frightened by a mysterious caller and that someone is prowling around their garden. Roxanna wonders whether her mother is losing her mind due to grief following the death of her father. She is also worried about a regular customer hasn't been in to cash the takings of the cinema around the corner.
When Sandro starts to investigate, he soon finds out as he suspects, Claudio Brunello is a married man with children, who has left the city for the cool of the seaside with his family for the holiday month. Then a body is found. Claudio's wife identifies him but when Anna is taken to the morgue, she is delighted to tell them that this is not her "Josef". Sandro's missing fiance case and the dead bank manager are obviously linked and Sandro and his former police partner, Pietro join unofficial forces to sort it out.
As a lover of Florence, I walked around the beautiful city in my imagination with the characters in this book. The descriptive passages meant that heat could almost be felt in every turning of a page. A simple story, by that I mean one that could easily happen anywhere to anyone, but well-written and a page turner.
If you liked Michael Dibdin's Zen, then you will enjoy Sandro. I look forward to joining him, his wife, Luisa, his assistant Guili and Peitro in Florence again very soon.
Susan White, England