Monday, June 29, 2020

A Violin and Murder

The Rainaldi Quartet 

The Rainaldi Quartet (Castiglione and Guastafeste, #1)

You expect the momentous events in life to provide some kind of warning. You expect to have some presage of what's about to happen, to be prepared for it when it hits you. But I wasn't prepared. None of us was.  - Paul Adam, The Rainaldi Quartet

This mystery involves a valuable violin and multiple murders in contemporary Italy.

Shortly after playing a short composition by Beethoven with his friends Tomaso Rainaldi, a retired professional musician and sometime violin teacher, and Antonio Guastafeste, a local detective; Gianni Castiglione, an elderly luthier (that is, a craftsman of stringed instruments), receives a suspicious call at his Lombardy countryside home from Rainaldi’s wife Clara. His friend hasn’t come home and he is soon found stabbed near his abandoned car. Guastafeste, a generation younger than narrator Castiglione or Rainaldi, returns when he’s assigned to the case. Because Castiglione’s technical knowledge makes him useful as a valuable resource, he accompanies Guastafeste on his investigation, which begins with Venetian violin collector Dottor Forlani. The curious collector lives in squalor but spends a small fortune on instruments. They learn that Rainaldi had contacted Forlani about acquiring a valuable violin known as the “Messiah’s Sister.” Not long after their visit, Forlani is also murdered by a nefarious and mysterious persona as ruthless as he is determined. The mystery’s trail, which includes old letters and older tombs, leads Gianni through a network of auction houses and black-market dealings across Italy and western Europe, reaching its denouement at Casale Monferrato, the cement capital of Italy.

Well-paced storytelling perfectly suits the subtle pleasures of this tale. The author offers plenty of European history and an immersion in a subculture of the classical music world as well as a pleasant mystery.


Kathy's Corner said...

Hi James, it sounds like a teally good mystery and set in Italy it reminds me of Donna Leon's mystery series. The paragraph you quoted about how we sometimes don't get warnings with regard to life changing events is powerful. It really makes me want to read the book.

mudpuddle said...

i used to be a classical musician (not violin) and i think i'd enjoy this a lot... i'll look for it; i recall reading an Italian mystery in which the detective was a violinist, but, naturally, i can't remember who the author was...

Brian Joseph said...

Despite the murder, this sounds like a very pleasant book to read. It can make a book so very enjoyable when it is intelligently infused with art and music.

James said...

The quote is from the opening lines of the book. I'll have to try something by Donna Leon.

James said...

As a musician (also not violin) I agree that you may enjoy this mystery imbued with the culture of classical music. It's not Sherlock Holmes, but still a pleasant read.

James said...

I guess this book is as pleasant, especially with the musical connections, as a murder mystery can be.