The House of Serenades
Giuseppe Berilli, Genoese lawyer and head of one of the city’s most prominent families in 1910, has always lived a privileged life. Wealthy, respected, married to the daughter of a marquis, he has no fears, even when kicked by a horse in the streets. But, when threatening letters begin coming days later, Giuseppe wonders if the horse accident may have been an accident at all. Suddenly fearful, he calls in the chief of police, Antonio Sobrero, ordering discretion. As Antonio investigates the enemies the arrogant attorney amassed in his lifetime, he begins uncovering more sinister things. Nearly everyone in the Berilli family has a secret, and they would rather take their secrets to the grave than offer them up to Genoa’s rumor mills. One person watching the investigation with great interest is a mandolin player who has never stopped loving the girl of his dreams, and who has never forgiven Giuseppe for causing her death.
This book was such a mixed bag for me. The unfolding mystery was neatly plotted and kept me on my toes as each fresh perfidy of the Berilli family was revealed. But the secrets came almost too soon, and the villains met their end far before the book did. The last quarter of the book felt almost like an epilogue, a drawn-out romance contrasting with the tragic mystery of the first three-quarters. The writing was also choppy in places, adding what felt like unnecessary words and explanations. The story and plotting were strong, but the writing and pacing could have benefited from more editing.