A Darkness Descending - Christobel Kent
A DARKNESS DESCENDING is the fourth book from Christobel Kent featuring ex-cop, now private detective Sandro Cellini. As this is the first from the series I've tried, I'm guessing that you may have to start from the beginning to get a handle on the who and hows of these characters.
Of course it doesn't help that there's a bit of an expectation nowadays that Italian Crime Fiction is going to include fabulous food, a grumpy central detective, an immersion-like sense of place or some combination thereof, but for some reason I struggled with this book.
In the early stages of the story there are a lot of characters introduced. Most seem to have important back-stories but because they are piled on top of each other, the attempts to fill in some of the details are there, but easy to get confused. Cellini, his wife, his assistant and her boyfriend, in particular, obviously have a close and strong relationship much of which is informed by their shared past. What, in the early stages, seems a bit heavy handed and confused, however, does lighten up and consequently become more informing once the plot claws it's way out into the light, and the action starts to proceed.
The plot itself is an unusual one, which will be confronting for some readers. It is rather chilling, and uncomfortably believable for one that relies on the absolute manipulation of other people. Harking back to the Italian expectation, I also couldn't quite shake the feeling of observation of the local culture, as opposed to immersion in it. Somehow I knew I was in Italy, but didn't feel like I was in Italy like I have done with other recent reads.
I suspect that reading the earlier books in the series would have been a very good idea, and whilst I struggled with A DARKNESS DESCENDING at points, I think there's enough there to make me keep an eye out for the earlier books. I'd like to see how the series started out.
When Silvano Niccolo, the driven, charismatic leader of a Florentine political movement, collapses at a rally, his young party immediately comes under threat. And when it emerges that his long time partner, Flavia, has disappeared, leaving behind not only a devastated husband but their newborn son, the political becomes dangerously personal - and Sandro Cellini is drafted in to investigate. The trail leads to a tired sea-side town and a modest hotel, where Flavia chose to end her life. But Cellini isn't satisfied - why would one so young and with so much to live for, walk away from all she loves? As he digs into Flavia's secret world, however, Sandro uncovers the hidden life of a woman consumed with private passions and a deadly, dark obsession. And as the private and public realms intersect, he cannot forget that life in modern Italy has a perilous edge - fuelled as much by rage as desire.