Meet Sandro Cellini, Florence’s answer to Donna Leon’s Guido Brunetti.
One wet November in Florence, the grieving widow of an eminent Jewish architect comes to visit Sandro Cellini, good husband, disgraced ex-policeman, and recently turned PI, to ask him to investigate her husband’s suicide. Cellini takes her on out of sympathy, although this first case makes a downbeat start to his new career. There seems no doubt that Claudio Gentileschi, a Holocaust survivor and lifelong depressive found drowned on a bleak stretch of the River Arno, did take his own life, and initially Cellini imagines that his only duty is to support the widow through her time of mourning.
But as Cellini doggedly retraces the architect’s last hours through the worst rains since the devastating floods of 1966, a young Englishwoman is found to have gone missing from the city’s community of hard-drinking, high-living art students, and Sandro’s search turns abruptly into something grimmer and more urgent than he could have imagined, as he uncovers a network of greed and corruption that is hidden under a veneer of tradition and refinement.
The Drowning River is a spot-on, atmospheric new mystery, the first in a series featuring Cellini.