George Hamilton’s Book Review – Death of a Serpent by Susan Russo Anderson 4/5*

With finely written prose rich in historical imagery, sound and other sense details of 1800s Sicily, Death of a Serpent was reminiscent of The Last Kabbalist of Lisbon for this reader.

Recently widowed Serafina is a determined sleuth, adept at solving other people’s problems, which sometimes causes her to neglect her own family issues. She is called on by her good friend Rosa, the successful owner of a high class brothel, to investigate the murders of several of her prostitutes. Why are the women being killed? Is it the local Don, a mysterious monk, or a former lover of Serafina? And how soon will the killers hands turn to Serafina and her family, especially as her estranged daughter may be within the killer’s sights?

The characters of Serafina, Rosa—the brothel owner, Scarpo—the brothels chief bodyguard and Inspector Colonna—the incompetent chief of police, are well realised and believable.

As the story reaches its climax, the two strands, that involving the investigation into the murders and Serafina’s struggle to reconcile with her daughter, are brought crashing together…

At times I would have liked the “pearls in the oyster of each scene” (1) to have been bigger and clearer, in other words, the beautiful atmosphere and setting of some scenes—the meat of the oyster—far outweighed the dramatic plot event that occurred (discoveries, decisions, responses, changes—the pearls), making it difficult to keep track of them (or maybe my memory is going). But that apart, this is a well written book with a likeable character in Serafina.

If you like fine writing with well researched historical details, then this book will be a feast for your senses.

Amazon Links to the book:

  1. Janet Burroway – Writing Fiction

About georgehamilton

George Hamilton likes to know what’s going on around the world, to delve into the customs and practices of different cultures, and this is often a feature of his novels. His tales are based on people's intense personal or family dramas, with major social or political events strongly impacting their story. In addition to World Literature, he also writes multi-genre novels which include: Historical, Suspense/Thriller, and Contemporary. He currently lives in London, England.
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