When a small coffee shop owner reports a property dispute in Florence, Italy, Deputy Inspector Antonio Ferrara and his partner Giancarlo Cordone are tasked with the case. The plot thickens when the shop owner mentions that he’s seen strange people entering and exiting the abandoned building across the street at all hours. When Antonio and Giancarlo go to investigate, they find a dead body. The dead body just happens to be the victim of a missing persons’ case that was investigated by Ferrara, one that he never solved, and which continued to haunt him. As it turns out, she’s only the latest victim in a series of several other mysterious disappearances that have been occurring in Florence for several years. Are they related? When a surviving relative mentions something about a Medici family curse, Ferrara’s interest is piqued. Little does he know that his quest to redeem a somewhat lackluster career will lead him into a deep-rooted mystery that has ties to the middle-ages as well as the Second World War.
The Medici Legacy is a well-written and nicely plotted thriller. The story flows nicely (for the most part—more on that later) and it’s filled with very well-drawn and interesting characters. First is the main protagonist, Antonio. He’s the son of an affluent art dealer and he’s got a gift for art appraisal (and, much like Sherlock Holmes, he does his best thinking when playing music, only Antonio uses a Bass guitar rather than a violin). But that’s not where his heart lies. While he deals with familiar pressure to take up the reins of the family business, he enjoys the challenge of police work, even though he’s never had a major case to make his name by. Opposite Ferrara’s old world and gallant demeanor is the sassy, smart and spunky Rachael Fuller. She’s a Medici scholar and ends up helping him on the case. She’s beautiful and plays up the comic relief to the somewhat straight-laced and old fashioned Ferrara. The interplay between the two comes off genuine and nice to read, especially as far as the romantic tension is concerned. The antagonists of the story (whom I won’t name—no spoilers here!) are also filled with their own believable motivations. The supporting characters—Antonio’s partner Giancarlo and his computer-hacking intern Mario) are also well-drawn and fun to read.
Along with some nice twists and turns that take Antonio from Italy to the United States, the story is filled with very good dialogue that features unique voices for each character, consistent decision making and good doses of comic relief, not the least of which are Antonio’s foreign observations of America.
There are a few pacing issues that I found both early and late in the telling. It takes a while to get into the meat of the story, for one thing. Not that it’s not good reading, but the Medici angle doesn’t go into full force until well after a third of the book is through. Additionally, there is a three or four chapter span towards the end that doesn’t do much other than chronicle Antonio’s travel up the Eastern Seaboard while investigating in America.
Issues aside, I found the Medici Legacy very enjoyable and Gregory Ahlgren is now on my radar! If you like a fun and fast thriller, you should check this one out.
Title: The Medici Legacy
Author: Greg Ahlgren
Publication: Booklocker.com, Inc. (October 15, 2011)
Price: $4.99 (Kindle, Nook), $16.95 (paperback)
Author’s Website: http://www.gregahlgren.com/writing/index.php