A perfect Tuscan day is ruined when a body surfaces in Florence’s Boboli Gardens.
The victim has been submerged in the pond so long that she’s unrecognizable. Attempting to identify her, Marshal Salvatore Guarnaccia (Some Bitter Taste, 2002, etc.) takes the distinctive handmade shoe she was wearing to Peruzzi’s specialty workshop, hoping the craftsman will recognize it. His Japanese apprentice Issino pales but denies all knowledge of it. Guarnaccia, however, is not put off, and soon identifies the shoe as the handiwork of Akiko, Peruzzi’s handpicked successor, who simply walked off one day. What fatal steps led the victim to her watery grave? Guarnaccia finds his search shorthanded when one of his carabinieri, the depressed Lorenzo Esposito, takes leave to visit his ailing mother, a ruse that culminates in his suicide. Determining the real cause of his unhappiness and Akiko’s tears the day she left leads Guarnaccia to an ill-fated love and, even worse, a vile explosion of jealousy from a third party that shatters all Peruzzi’s dreams.
Lean, elegant prose that surpasses the best of Simenon, along with a puckish view of the Florentines, from Guarnaccia’s Sicilian perspective.