One day while poking around a second-hand bin at a bookshop, I stumbled across what’s almost the quintessential find. A hard cover, in tact, novel, it was only missing its sleeve, and yet, the little decal on the spine near the title was all the fanciness this book needed. Since that day, I’ve tried to read Michele Giuttari’s The Black Rose of Florence, at least twice but have always been interrupted, today, I finished it! Huzzah!
(Here’s the link to the vlog!)
I debated for a while if I should include photos from my own trip to Florence, and after a lot of thought, I’ve decided to include a few. It’s one of my favorite cities, so the fact that I knew some of the piazzas and churches was so exciting!
I am so glad I did too, I thoroughly enjoyed it and this time was able to finish it in only a few days. With that in mind, I will “warn” you that it’s very expositional, it only really started to get interesting probably about a third of the way through. The ending was pretty fast paced and interesting; so once you get past the initial chunk, the 450ish page read goes pretty quickly.
This story follows a group of police officers in Florence, led by Michele Ferrara on an investigation of not one, not two, but six people in the city. Something I think is very interesting about the book too is that the whole story takes place over about two weeks, so it almost feels like you’re uncovering all the clues with the detectives in real time…but without all the boring day to day parts.
So what’s up with this killing spree in Florence? Well, there’s a secret society and one of its members kind of goes AWOL, while he’s tasked with carrying out/being part of certain killings, he also takes matters into his own hands. With a twisted sense of morality, he kills one man; murders a woman–who’s more than she seems–out of revenge on another guy; and then kills the guy he was trying to mess with…and kills his wife too. Ferrara and his team, meanwhile, have to do their police jobs and figure out why people are dropping like flies, but are also held up because the aforementioned secret society has slithered into all “fields of society” and sabotage the police.
It’s 100% a complex story that’s multifaceted, but it’s 100% interesting and really held my attention. I liked how the chapters were short–it almost made the book feel like a movie. A few pages for one scene, a few pages for another scene; oh, we’re switching countries to see the super secret people who are being all mysterious and blood-lusty over in the UK for a sec! It was an interesting technique, but one that I actually really enjoyed, a lot more than I thought I would.
I think the only thing I didn’t enjoy about the book was the number of characters–it was difficult to keep track of who was who at first. This was especially the case in the beginning when Giuttari starts introducing everybody. Later on, it was sometimes a little tricky to remember who was a detective vs. a Carabinieri (kinda like military police) vs. who worked in the prosecutor’s office. Additionally, Giuttari plays with ambiguity, so some chapters would be a lot of “he did this, and then that. And he blah blah blah.” Which was super captivating, but sometimes it was confusing there as well!
Overall, I really enjoyed the book and think most people who like murder mystery type stories will like it too. If you’re a little squeamish or uncomfortable with the occult, it might not be the best book for you, but those types of scenes aren’t overly detailed, so I think you’d still be fine reading it.
That’s all I’ve got for now! Check out my post on Meg Cabot’s Underworld!
All photos by Nicholas Esquibel