The Cemetery Of Secrets
- Pan Macmillan
- Publication Date:
- 02 October 2009
- Crime, Thrillers and Mystery
Showing 1-4 out of 4 reviews.
There are two stories between the covers of LUCIFER'S SHADOW. Both stories are set in Venice; the first of which is set in the 18th century at the time of Vivaldi (who plays a role in this story) and the second of which is contemporary. In the first story (which alternates with the modern story, a young man, Lorenzo Scacchi is an apprentice to his uncle in a printing house. The printing house is somewhat of a vanity press. Lorenzo's adventure starts when his uncle sends him into the Jewish ghetto in the city to pick up a young woman, Rebecca, to play in Vivaldi's orchestra at La Pieta, a church in Venice. Not only is it illegal for Lorenzo to do this, but it is illegal for her to go into the church. If the secret got out, she, her brother and Lorenzo could all face strict punishment; moreover. Meanwhile in the present, Daniel Forster has been invited to take a job cataloguing a private book collection of a descendant of the Scacchi family. Daniel becomes involved in some shady business dealings on behalf of Scacchi, but soon discovers that things are not what they seem. The 18th century story weaves in and out of the modern-day story, following chapter by chapter, until they seem to be telling the same story. I cannot begin to do this one justice by telling you about it...you have to read it!I loved, absolutely LOVED this book. My favorite types of stories are those in which something from the past makes an appearance in the present and has a bearing on the course of the present. This book was phenomenal and I highly recommend it.
When she died 10 years ago, promising violinist Susanna Gianni was buried on Venice's San Michele with her violin. After 10 years bodies on San Michele are disinterred and disposed of. Small time crook Rizzo has been employed by the Englishman Hugo Massiter to claim the corpse.. Well, he doesn't want the corpse really, just the Guarneri violin. And that's the hook that gets the reader/listener in straight away. Who is this Massiter? How did Susanna Gianni die? Why does he want the violin?At the same time young English academic Daniel Forster arrives in Venice to do some work for Scacchi, an ailing art collector, the last of the house of Scacchi, a printing house in Venice with a long history.Jump back now to the Venice of 1733. Vivaldi is conducting a concert in La Pieta. Canaletto is painting the life of Venice. Lorenzo Scacchi, nephew of the printer, has fallen in love with a beautiful violinist, Rebecca Levi, a Jewess whom he smuggles out of the ghetto so she can play in Vivaldi's annual concert.I strongly believe that the reader needs to go on their own journey of discovery, to experience the book for himself, to be surprised where the author reveals something new.So I'm not going to recount more of the story, except to tell you that there is a clever interweaving of parallel threads from the two time periods, even parallel characters. An annual concert, a piece of music, a beautiful young violinist, an evil Englishman, a law enforcement officer who is prevented from revealing the truth, are just some of the mirror images to look out for.This was a book that grew on me, to the point that, as I could feel the end was coming, I felt quite regretful. The narrator Christopher Kay, after I had got attuned to the Italian accent, did an excellent job, and his voice gave me plenty of clues about which character was speaking.
What a marvelous, MARVELOUS book my friend quinnsmom recommended! It carried me away in so many senses. Excellent writing, interesting subjects, vivid descriptions, intervweaving stories, historical accuracy (at least I *think* so), plausability, passion, art, music and VENICE! How could it be bad!There were enough twists and turns in the plot lines to keep me surprised right through to the very end-I shall spend the day looking up all kinds of things on theInternet to refresh my memory of Venetian history and to fill in the gaps where I have forgotten or was uninformed.
This book started out slow. It is divided into a modern track and a historical track(1733), both set in Venice. The 2 tracks mirror each other.The historical track's main character is an orphaned young man, Lorenzo, who comes to Venice to work as a printer's apprentice for his uncle, a moderately important publisher. The Venice of the day is ruled by the Doge, and his secret police, and a network of anonymous public drop boxes where anyone can inform on those who are breaking either secular or religious law. Those named are dragged off, and never seen again. Vivaldi is in residence, at the end of his life. He conducts yearly concerts to spread his music, but since his glory days are behind him, the city is tired of his recycled material. A group which includes, Lorenzo's uncle, thinks a good new musician will transform the tired music. The orchestra that plays is small, all female, and performs behind a screen. Lorenzo's uncle cooks up a scheme to smuggle a talented Jewish woman into the group. The concerts are played in a church, and Jews are forbidden on pain of death and torture to enter a Christian church. They are unfairly discriminated against, and locked up every night in their ghetto. Lorenzo becomes involved in getting Rebecca to and from the concerts, helping to smuggle her out of the ghetto, and back in again. Of course Lorenzo becomes besotted. The story becomes more complicated when an 'anonymous' concerto is presented and there is great speculation on the composer. Various twists abound, some characters show their true colors as bad guys, and others throw off their disguise as good guys and do horrible things.The modern day thread has a young Englishman, Daniel, with no family, come to Venice to work on the ancient personal library of the head of the same publishing house of the past thread, Scacchi. Now fallen on hard times, with equipment and papers waterlogged, the house does no publishing and is in decline. The aging head of the house and his male American lover are both dying of AIDS. They are tended to by a young woman as housekeeper, Laura, who is strongly dedicated and protective of them.The modern day thread has a yearly concert, and a famous avaricious collector who funds them, Massiter. Again the 'anonymous' concerto appears and much jockeying is done so that not only will it be performed and published, but that those who do so will get the rights, the royalties, and the fame.Set around these characters are several connected murders. One of a young woman virtuoso violinist, and then the cemetery attendant who exhumes her 10 years after her death for a 'fake' relative, with forged paperwork. The police are looking for the current murderer and what was taken from the coffin of the exhumed girl. The murderer of the girl committed suicide 10 years before, but the current police detective does not believe the dead man to be the killer. She believe s that Massiter and Scacchi are involved in smuggling of artifacts, and feels young, naive Daniel is the weak spot to apply pressure.The book took a while to take off. The modern day thread was mostly bland and boring for about the first 120 pages. Most of the characters were not well developed, and were odd. I did really care what happened to them.The past thread was interesting, but for the early part were all in italics. The conceit was that the main character was writing letters to his sister in Spain. Thank god she eventually dies and the italics mostly disappear. I hate reading whole chapters in italics. If you can hang on to the middle to end of the book, it becomes a worthwhile read.
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