Saturday, June 15, 2013

The Rainaldi Quartet (aka Sleeper) by Paul Adam

First Sentence:  You expect the momentous moments in your life to provide some kind of warning.
 Luther (violin-maker) Giovanni "Gianni" Castiglioni and policeman, Guastafeste, never expect one of their monthly informal string quartet gatherings to turn into a hunt for a murderer. Yet Guastafeste and Gianni find their friend Rainaldi murdered in this studio. His widow tells them he was searching for The Messiah's Sister, the twin to a perfect, unplayed, priceless violin made by Stradivari. Their hunt takes them from the sleepy town of Cremona, to Venice, Milan and England, resulting in another murder, searching for another priceless violin and, possibly, widower Gianni finding a new love.
Paul Adam has such a wonderful voice.  It is so comfortable that, from the very beginning with a gathering of friends, you feel as though you are one of them.  This makes the events which follow all the more impactful.  Yet, his is a wonderfully wry, pragmatic voice.  Although the story is set in some glorious cities, he conveys the feeling of a native by not romanticizing them…”St. Mark’s [in Venice] is an architectural wonder, but with all those Byzantine domes and pinnacles, it looks gaudy and vulgar, like a Mafia capo’s wedding cake.”
 The characters are fully developed; you know their histories and their relationships to one another.  But it’s more than a surface acquaintance.  Particularly with Gianni, you know the pain of his past and understand his acceptance of the present and future.  A possible change to that is, then, all the more enticing.  You sense his morality and deep friendship with Guastafeste which makes Gianni’s struggle with an action from the past and his friend’s learning of it all the more poignant.  Even the secondary characters are vivid and brought to life.  Each character is memorable on their own and none more so than Mrs. Colquhoen with her myriad of cats all named “Timmy”. 
The theme of the book is music and, in particular, violins; the artistry involved in the making of them, their history, the obsession one can have for collecting them, and the greed for selling them.  All of this is integrated into the story in a way that is fascinating, rather than boring. 
 TheRainaldi Quartet” is a combination history and music lesson, but it is also a jigsaw puzzle and treasure hunt with an excellent resolution.  Most of all, it is one great read!  

THE RAINALDI QUARTET (AKA SLEEPER) (Mys- Castiglione/ Guastafeste-Italy-Contemp) – VG+
Adam, Paul – 1st in series
Time Warner Books, 2004

1 comment:

  1. This sounds like it is right up my alley!