Wednesday, July 22, 2009

City of Silver-Annamaria Alfieri

City of Silver
Annamaria Alfieri
Minotaur, Aug 4 2009, $24.99
ISBN: 9780312383862

In 1650, Spanish King Felip IV is concerned with a flood of impure silver coins that threatens the very foundation of the empire. He sends the Visitador General Doctor Francisco de Nestares to Potosi, the largest city in the New World and the center of silver production to investigate and execute those coining the counterfeits.

At the same time in Potosi, Inez Rojas de la Morada, daughter of the Alcalde Municipal, apparently commits suicide while inside an abbey. The New Spain Grand Inquisitor Fray Perdro de la Gasca sees an opportunity to strengthen his control; he blames the abbess Mother Maria Santa Hilda. He calls her a heretic because she was allowing Inez to be interred in holy ground. Not one to sit idly by, Mother Maria sets out to prove that Inez was a murder victim and did not take her life. Her inquiry uncovers implications that some of her people are involved in the watering down of the silver.

This is a great mid seventeenth century historical fiction that grips the audience from the moment the Spanish monarch sends his “investigator” to New Spain and never slows down as the tale turns into an exhilarating amateur sleuth with a clock ticking. Revelations abound that stun the Mother Superior while the Visitador General and the New Spain Grand Inquisitor do their respective jobs. The mystery is cleverly done to entertain readers with strong competing inquiries pulled by personal agendas; in which the truth may prove irrelevant but even more so to provide a deep vivid look at the biggest city in the seventeenth century New World. Awesome Annamaria Alfieri will be fully welcomed by the genre.

Harriet Klausner