Curtains for the Cardinal

Elizabeth Eyre, Author Houghton Mifflin Harcourt P $19.95 (260p) ISBN 978-0-15-123682-4
Authors Jill Staynes and Margaret Storey ( Death of a Duchess ) muffle the literary resonance of their pseudonym in a heavy, obscure and excessively melodramatic plot. Their second mystery set in medieval Italy again features brilliant deductionist Sigismondo, who is bald like a monk but who fights like a soldier, and his slack-jawed manservant, Benno, who has an air of ``amiable idiocy.'' Sigismondo, bringing a message from Duke Ludovico of Rocca to his sister, the dying Princess Oralia, is puzzled by her cryptic remarks. They are interrupted by her husband, Prince Livio, who bursts from behind the arras with his sword drawn. Shouting `` Betrayed me! Betrayed me! Bastard! Bastard! '' Livio runs to the next room and beheads his teenage son; Sigismondo grabs Livio's 14-year-old daughter, Princess Minerva and heads back to Rocca. In the ensuing days, a cardinal is burned to death, a prostitute takes Princess Minerva under her wing and Sigismondo, after a bloody battle, finally gets to the bottom of the mystery. Although period details of dress and custom are carefully rendered, the story itself, neither a chase tale nor a courtroom whodunit, suffers mortally from its indeterminate identity. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 08/02/1993
Release date: 08/01/1993
Genre: Fiction
Mass Market Paperbound - 978-0-425-14126-7
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