The Secrets of Casanova
In 1755 Jacques Casanova, exiled from Venice, visits his brother in Paris and comes into possession of a mysterious scroll. Hoping it will provide him with the wealth he needs to fulfill his dream of returning to Venice, Casanova sets off across Europe in search of treasure.
The cover of this novel proclaims it a mystery, but The Secrets of Casanova is more of a Dan Brown-style suspense novel crossed with a swashbuckling adventure tale than a novel written for mystery readers. The scroll doesn’t come into view until nearly halfway through the book, and the plotting is too loose and episodic to support the puzzle at the heart of the tale.
I felt that the author had done a great deal of research into Casanova and his times, and perhaps that’s why I found it hard to like Casanova himself. The portrait Michaels paints has realistic feet of clay – Casanova is presented as a man with many faults and weaknesses, a profligate adventurer prone to episodes of instability. The lover, philosopher, and scholar is hinted at but never truly realized on the page. The novel is also hampered by a florid style of writing that I found unappealing.