The Phoenix of Florence
The author returns to Renaissance Italy with The Phoenix of Florence. Onorio Celavini, a commander in the Medici’s feared policy force, investigates two murders. To his horror, he discovers a personal link to them, which could unearth his deeply held secrets, and a wider conspiracy, which threatens the state itself. To solve the crimes of the present, and to prevent more catastrophes, Celavini must confront the past: the hidden vendettas, tragedies and battles – both real and emotional – that created him.
Kazan skilfully evokes the world of the Renaissance, from the beauties of the Tuscan countryside to the brutality of internecine warfare and the poverty of Florence’s slums. Celavini is an interesting and, at times, surprising central character, whose story is told with compassion and intelligence, and Kazan’s novel explores themes of tragedy, necessity and identity within a world that requires people to fulfil the roles allotted to them by class and gender. This is a beautifully written, atmospheric and enjoyable novel. Recommended.