A Time of Mourning by Christobel Kent

Can I just say I loved this book…and leave it at that?

I wouldn’t really have much of a blog post to write then, I guess.

But, the fact is that I loved this book.

Ok, it’s not the book of my life or the book I’ll read and read and read again, but it was perfect for a showery week in Madrid, when commuting was getting a bit tiresome and some escape was needed.

And escape you do, as soon as you start the book. Like a tiramisu, the characters are perfectly layered, showing us first the chocolate sprinkled on top and then revealing more and more sides as you read on. Iris is (oh yes, remember there are no spoilers here!) a sweet expat from a poor family who has just moved to Florence with her well-off (and slightly posh) friend Ronnie. They’re there to follow an art course, but it’s immediately clear that Ronnie is much more interested in living than studying. Or is she?

As the story continues, we meet Sandro. Sandro is a an ex-cop who is now starting his own Private Eye studio in which he is on his own. If you don’t count his sweetheart (yeah, they’re definitely past middle-age but their love is as new as freshly baked cookies) and her friend Giulietta, the recovered addict that is much more helpful than expected.

Claudio is the heartbreaker. Working on other people’s memories we get to know the gentle soul that Claudio’s character represents, used and abused by modern sharks that discarded him without second thoughts after he suddenly (and unpredictably) became a liability.

A time of mourning by Christobel Kent
A fantastic shot of Florence by Aljaz Vidmar. It was exactly what I was looking for to describe this book.

The river, the Arno that flows through Florence, is the lietmotif of the mystery story told in this book that flows silently under the plot and physically represents the emotions that we feel as we read. As more and more clues are revealed the river swells and starts lapping at our character’s houses, buildings, feet even. When suddenly we get it, ohmygod is that what happened??, it is the dead of the night and the river is at its highest level, threatening to swallow the city whole. But then when everything falls into place, we are left with a subdued body of water and the only evidence of the recent events are plastic bags strewn in treetops, wet cell phones and a dusty bag in a police station.

As I said, I loved it. The story caught me immediately (can you say that in English?) and I had to find out what had happened. Surprisingly, the ending was not only wonderfully timed but also satisfactory, which means that I’ll probably have to buy the next book in the series.

Let me know if you read it and what you think!

A time of mourning by Christobel Kent
Photo of Florence by Wen
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