Another Review at MyShelf.Com

Publisher: Padlock Mystery Press  
Release Date: May 2003 
ISBN: 0966202066 
Format Reviewed: Paperback 
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Genre: Historical Crime [1491 Bologna, Italy] 
Reviewed: 2003
Reviewer: Rachel A Hyde 
Reviewer Notes:  Review One

Key Confrontations (Review 2)
By M E Cooper 

     Young widow Avisa Baglatoni is a woman who holds her own in a man's world, as a locksmith and respected guild member. After the death of her husband and mother-in-law she is shocked to find that her father-in-law is determined to remarry, and that he has chosen a sluttish young woman who is only after his money. When he is found dead, all fingers point at Avisa, who was heard saying that she would rather see him in his grave than married to Selina. She is going to need all her wits - and those of her friends - to clear her name and find out who-dun-it.

     This is the second book in a series, and I would highly recommend reading the initial book first. I hadn't and throughout this book, there is a feeling of a good deal having gone on before and this underpins the story like a foundation stone. But if you haven't obtained it then be reassured that this is a separate story, and a good one to boot. Avisa and her contemporaries have the ring of truth about them and the author has sensibly trod the middle path between presenting us with characters that seem incomprehensible to our present-day minds and those who are just modern folk in costume. I've read more tortuous crime novels - I guess whodunit - but the main treat here is Cooper's way of deftly sketching in the background and ambience of the times in remarkably few words. This is a wonderfully concise novel, and the antidote to verbose tomes that bursts with energy and gives a snapshot of life in Renaissance Italy. This is not a period much chosen by novelists so this is another point in the writer's favor. I hope this is going to be a much longer series.