The Botticelli Secret
St. Martin’s Griffin, Apr 2010, $14.99
In 1482 in Florence’s Ponte Vecchio, Luciana enjoys selling herself to her wealthy clientele. Franciscan novice Brother Guido tries to give her a religious pamphlet, but she laughs with profanity at his inanity while offering her body at no charge.
She does not scorn the great artist Botticelli who has hired her to model as the prime figure the goddess of spring for his current work, Primavera. After finishing her assignment, but not getting paid for posing, Luciana impishly takes the model of the Primavera and leaves behind Guido's pamphlet. However back at her room, she finds her roommate’s throat cut, which she interprets as the rage of Lorenzo de Medici. She flees to affluent customer Bembo, but his throat has been sliced. Next she tries Brother Guido and those at his monastery, but several are dead there. Guido and Luciana flee to his aristocratic uncle Lord Sylvio of Pisa to intervene, but has been poisoned and his son blames his cousin. The Seven city state magnates supported by the pope want the unfinished prototype and will kill to possess it.
This is an entertaining Brownian Renaissance thriller that conspiracy buffs especially will enjoy. Luciana is an interesting lead character as she can be impishly seductive in spite of her endless strings of profanities. Although the deep look into the Primavera is educating and defends why the Seven needs it back, those sections turn long winded as only art students and professors, and conspirator buffs will relish. Still overall The Botticelli Secret is a cleverly designed late fifteenth century thriller.