The Last Castrato

John Spencer Hill, Author
John Spencer Hill, Author St. Martin's Press $20.95 (0p) ISBN 978-0-312-13107-4
Reviewed on: 05/29/1995
Release date: 06/01/1995
Mass Market Paperbound - 299 pages - 978-0-373-26229-8
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This overwritten debut by a Canadian Milton and Coleridge scholar is more gothic romance than mystery. Young American divorcee Cordelia Sinclair has come to Florence to research her doctoral dissertation on the Camerata, a group of 16th-century Italian composers whose work was the beginning of modern opera. She's also come to ``confront her hidden self.'' In a series of stunning coincidences, she meets four of the major players in a string of gruesome throat slashings, in which particular attention has been paid to the victims' vocal cords. She also meets Inspector Carlo Arbati, the handsome detective investigating the bizarre crimes, who is, as well, a sensitive lyric poet. Although Cordelia and Carlo fall in love and the case itself leads to a frightening climax, the tale is sunk by grandiose descriptions, heavy-handed metaphors and tacky evocations of Botticelli and other Florentine wonders. (June)
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