Dark Dante unfolds in Florence in the spring of 2000, exactly seven hundred years after Dante Alighieri set his Inferno there; disgusted with the corruption of his contemporaries, the poet decides to punish the ill-doers of his day in his magnificent poem. In this engaging and evocative mystery thriller, a string of horrendous murders is committed in quick succession. Seeing that the Italian police are making little headway finding the culprit, Maria Farrell, the niece of the first victim, Peter Farrell, decides to investigate. Because of a family feud, she never met Peter, a specialist in art history, who lived in Florence most of his life. A theatre director from Manchester, Maria shrewdly exploits her professional skills and knowledge of Shakespeare’s theatre in her attempt to solve the murders.
Caught in a web of mystery and grappling to understand the mindset of the Italians she encounters, this unusual detective follows “the Dante trail”, in the conviction that somebody in Florence, obsessed by Dante, may have decided to mete out the punishments described in the Inferno all those centuries before. Maria’s investigation reveals much about her uncle Peter and the fascinating medley of friends in his inner circle. And importantly a growing friendship with one of the detectives on the murder case leads Maria to reconsider her priorities in life. About to leave for England, she resolves to return to Florence very soon to see her new friend and hopefully discover more about the enigmatic figure of ‘Dark Dante’
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I received a copy of this title from the publisher for an honest review. 2.75 stars rounded up to 3. I really wanted to rate this book higher as the premise sounded really exciting, but there was just something missing from the story that holds me back. Set in 2020, the story features Maria who travels from England to Florence upon the murder of her uncle who she had never met. She is surprised to learn that he left her an inheritance; his close friends and long term partner seem resentful of her windfall at what they perceive to be their expense. Maria decides to try and solve the murder after the police seem stymied. Soon, additional murders occur and figuring out the murder's identity becomes even more important. I had a couple of issues that held back my rating even though the murders's identity was nicely done. First, I don't feel like I got to know Maria well enough; she never felt fully fleshed out. Second, I was expecting the Dante connection to be more prominent to the mystery than it was. Third, I think the mystery around the falling out Peter had with his family took too much time away from the murder mystery. I did like a ot of the book and would read another title from the author to see how she grew from this one to the next.
I recently read The Divine Comedy and so I found this book really interesting, it is such a greatr and unique premise that had me on the edge of my seat and wondering what would happen next. A great read
Dark Dante by Maggie Rose is an intriguing mystery that has its dark moments as well as a great deal of less ominous moments. Using Dante's work as a plot device is a double edge sword, though I think it is pulled off pretty well. When a classic text is offered as part of a plot, readers come to the story with varying expectations. Some will want every detail to speak to that work, in this case Dante's Inferno. Some, which is the group I fall into, are content with it playing enough of a part without being obtrusive to the current story. I think there is enough allusion to the Inferno to satisfy most of both groups. I also don't think it matters what the reader's familiarity with Dante is either. I would imagine that someone who has only heard of it or only read it once will enjoy it. I don't know how many times I've read the Commedia or how many translations (I happen to prefer Ciardi's verse translation though prose translations are good for casual reading). I used Ciardi when I taught so that is my most read. That familiarity with Dante did not detract from enjoying the story. So I do think that if how much or how little Dante is here is why someone didn't enjoy this novel it might speak more to posturing than actual dissatisfaction. What I also liked was the use of drama, primarily Shakespeare, in the story as well. The play between the cultures within which each was created and how they are now perceived and "used" made for a nice undercurrent throughout the book. There may be something available to answer my next question but I really just didn't look. I am wondering if this is the beginning of a series, whether a "Dante" series or more generally a Maria Farrell series. The slower pace and the background of several characters made this feel a lot like a first book in a series. Many such books spend a little more time on things that let you know about the potentially returning characters, and I think those elements in this book is what might make some feel it was slow. I personally thought it was nicely paced, though admittedly slower than many mystery/thrillers. I would recommend this to readers who like methodical mysteries and especially ones with literary references. If you lean more toward the thriller than the mystery genre it may be more iffy for you, but if you like literary allusions that will push it over to the positive side for you. Reviewed from a copy made available by the publisher via NetGalley.
Some fascinating and clever references to Dante and his Inferno in this interesting book. The story itself is good with some great characters, although I think the pace was a little bit slow.
I was eager to read this book as the plot interested me. Murder, Florence and Dante, a theatre producer based in Manchester gets a call from Florence telling her that her uncle has been murdered. What then ensues is a journey to Italy and the Tuscan region trying to figure out more about the uncle she never knew and the person who did it. Having read through the book I was a little disappointed, the plot I believe was weakened due to the characters not being as fully developed as well as the connections and situations around events that follow lacking a bit of depth. In stories like this I tend to like being drawn into the sights and sounds and immersed into the world but all too often I found that I couldn't get there, sometimes due to the chapters being short or other times a conversation or particular scene not fully being played out. I also found some sections repetitive. However on the plus side, the historical references to Dante and the leisurely pace of the book made this a book, you could just pick up and read casually.