YOUR STACK: 0 items $0.00

The Drowning River, by Chrostobel Kent

December 17, 2011

Favorite Felony: The Drowning River, by Christobel Kent

Let me introduce you to Sandro Cellini, a not-quite-voluntarily retired policeman reluctantly trying a midlife stab at becoming a private investigator in his native Florence. His diffidence almost causes him to miss his first client: a refined older woman whose husband, Claudio Gentileschi—an artist who has experienced some of the rigors endured by the Italian Jewish community during World War II—has just walked into the Arno River and is thus declared a suicide by the police. His widow just wants to know why, setting Cellini on a path that will entwine his investigation with that conducted by Iris March, a young English student, whose friend from art school has just gone missing. When the two investigators finally chance to meet, their collaboration allows them to solve the puzzle of the death of the old man and the disappearance of the young woman. The author leads us quickly to the finely wrought conclusion of the book, a conclusion made all the more dramatic by steadily growing bad weather as rain swells the Arno and it threatens to flood its banks, echoing the historic nightmare of the destructive flood in 1966.

The story is gripping, but the real pleasure of The Drowning River is twofold—the character of Florence itself and the character of Sandro Cellini and his wife Luisa: We are treated not to the Florence that the tourists see, but rather to a far more nuanced view into the locales and lives of ordinary Florentines. The author is spot-on in terms of both the geography of Florence and, more intriguingly, its sociology. The working poor are described sympathetically, although the author is somewhat more critical of the artistic poseurs and dubiously titled owners of threadbare palazzos broken up and rented to long-term visitors. And among those visitors is a sad cadre of young persons, exiled to art school in Florence by narcissistic and beleaguered parents. The character of Sandro Cellini is finely limned: He is a ruminator: melancholy, uxorious, and highly attuned to mortality—an existential hero, if you will. His wife Luisa is practical and steady, and although the word love is never said, it is palpable in every human detail of their marriage.

The Drowning River is in the European realist tradition and, as such, has the slight timbre of a piece of music written in a minor key—pleasurable, but with a twist.

Justine, Proofreader

Find out More

PAPERBACK[ $14.95 ]

Add to Stack


Comments are closed.