The Forger and the Thief, Kirsten McKenzie
THE FORGER AND THE THIEF takes touches of the mystical (as you'd expect from this author) and builds them into an historical mystery thriller framework in a particularly successful, and extremely atmospheric novel about, in the main, emotional betrayal and lies, set in 1960's Florence.
Told in a series of different character perspectives, chapter by chapter, there's plenty of momentum to the story in THE FORGER AND THE THIEF, and not just because an apocalyptic flood is threatening to reveal secrets that everyone wants to stay hidden.
I particularly loved the reflections and mirroring that's going on between, on the human level, a forger creating a web that threatens to entrap five strangers, and on the natural level, a river that's creating a web of its own - sweeping away the known, revealing secrets and trapping others.
The sense of the whirlwind around everybody and everything doesn't feel contrived though - it settles over the action, as the strangers lives start to converge, and the waters of the Arno begin to encroach. Each of the five main characters have ended up in Florence for different reasons, at different times in their lives - and yet they share so many similarities. It was hard to erase the idea that the malevolence of the river actually made a lot more sense than the nastiness of the people - who in the main are pretty darn hard to like, or respect, and possibly more interesting because of that.
Nicely balanced throughout, there are touches of personal redemption to temper the general unlikability of most of the people here, there's just enough of the backstory of the characters to provide context, and there's a strong sense of the period of time, as well as the place. And always, there's that threat of the river. Particularly telling given recent experiences with some terrifyingly destructive floods throughout the world.
FIVE STRANGERS IN FLORENCE, EACH WITH A DANGEROUS SECRET. AND AN APOCALYPTIC FLOOD THREATENING TO REVEAL EVERYTHING.
A wife on the run, a student searching for stolen art, a cleaner who has lined more than his pockets, a policeman whose career is almost over, and a guest who should never have received a wedding invite. Five strangers, entangled in the forger’s wicked web.
In a race against time, and desperate to save themselves and all they hold dear, will their secrets prove more treacherous than the ominous floodwaters swallowing the historic city?
Dive into a world of lies and deceit, where nothing is as it seems on the surface…