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The Drowning River by Christobel Kent
Review by Mel Jacob
Minotaur Books Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780312621018
Date: 06 July 2010 List Price $24.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /

Readers who like a leisurely read and a tour of Florence, Italy will find both in Christobel Kent's new mystery The Drowning River. An elderly man walks into the river Arno and drowns. A young English girl named Ronnie disappears without a word to her friends. These events eventually become crimes as Sandro Celleni, a disgraced former police officer and now a private investigator answers the plea of the man's widow to solve his apparent suicide.

Sandro is unprepared for life as a private investigator. He is dismissed from his position as a police detective when the father of a girl killed years before uses information supplied by him to kill her murderer. This leaves him lost and unable to focus. His wife Luisa finds him a client, the wife of the drowned man. Then, the English girl's mother who is in Dubai asks him to work with the Italian police over the disappearance of her daughter.

The drowned man led a double life unknown to his wife. Sandro suspects he may have been involved with illegal activities. He stumbles across a young man who may have witnessed the drowning, but the boy flees. Sandro discovers that a friend of his, a former drug addict and prostitute, knew the drowned man and also the mentally impaired boy.

Meanwhile Iris March, the roommate of the missing girl, hunts for her and follows her own suspicions. She believes one of the girl's many male friends may be involved. Her suspicions center on a young American art student. Eventually, Iris links up with Sandro and they pool their knowledge.

Christobel Kent provides well-rounded characters with concerns beyond the kidnap victim. The novel begins slowly, but picks up pace until the thrilling climax. She provides enough suspects to keep the identity of the villain in doubt and a feast for those who like foreign settings.

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