cover image The Botticelli Secret

The Botticelli Secret

Marina Fiorato, . . St. Martin?s Griffin, $14.99 (517pp) ISBN 978-0-312-60636-7

The city-states of Renaissance Italy serve as the vibrant backdrop for this less than successful homage to The Da Vinci Code from Fiorato (The Glassblower of Murano ). In 1482 Florence, while prostitute Luciana Vetra is posing for Botticelli’s Primavera , she makes a casual comment that terrifies the artist. Sent away unpaid, Luciana steals a miniature of the painting in revenge. When she discovers that an assassin is on her trail, she flees Florence with the most trustworthy companion she can find, handsome and cultured monk Brother Guido della Torre. As the two decode the secrets hidden in the painting (and fall in love), its meanings send them on a quest through Italy to save their own lives and avert a conspiracy involving the greatest powers of the day. Luciana’s energetic narrative voice keeps the pages turning, but lengthy passages deconstructing La Primavera yield secrets, unlike those in Dan Brown’s bestseller, with little resonance for modern readers. (Apr.)