Publication Date: December 6, 2012
In Death In Bagheria by Susan Russo Anderson, it’s 1870 and Serafina is a Sicilian midwife who is well known for solving crimes. Dismissive aristocrat, Sister Genoveffa, believes her mother has been murdered and hires Serafina to look into the case. Serafina travels to Sicily’s Gold Coast to investigate but will she be able to stay alive long enough to unmask the killer? Death In Bagheria (A Serafina Florio Mystery) is the third novel in the Serafina Florio series.
I came across this novel as a fan of historical work. David did not. I bought the entire series and did what I normally do when buying mystery novels, I sent them to my Dad’s Kindle. Last night when discussing what I’d read before reviewing, we discovered that the novel I was set to review today was the one he’d read while my Mom drove the 12 hours north to our home.
David and I found the book captivating. Serafina is a good character and well written. Though Death In Bagheria is the third novel in the series, the story easily held up as an introduction to the character and the world in which she lives. Serafina is clearly a character the author knows well and is able to write without the awkwardness that can often accompany the first novel as the character develops. David was inspired to read the rest of the series so stay tuned with his thoughts as to if the character grew or was strong from the start.
Some of the characters seemed to rely on rote, but most were seemingly very well thought out and developed. Serafina has a complex relationship with many of the characters, and yet there wasn’t a feeling of repetition between them. They were all very uniquely strained and delicately balanced in a way that made all simply more interesting to read.
Death In Bagheria has a very specific feel of place and time. Often with historical fiction, you can take the story out of its setting and just change the date — the feel of the story doesn’t change. Not so with this novel. I don’t know if Anderson has deeply researched the time period in Sicily as I’m not familiar with that era of history, but there’s a true feeling to the way she’s written the location as a second main character. Like the great Canadian detective show, “Murdoch Mysteries” (set at the turn of the twentieth century), the feel of the novel is a very period piece in a way that I loved, but David found as a spice to the real prize — the mystery.
The mystery was complex and the writing style intense. Anderson pulls few punches. The character, Serafina, is not a perfect person nor a perfect detective, but she’s in there tenaciously working hard. She is a mother of seven children and in no way a perfect parent. She’s widowed, still young and looking for romance and finds it with an old flame. David found the romance aspect of the novel needless but truly enjoyed the mystery. I found that the romance added flair to the mystery, as did the very real nature of Serafina and her time in her longing for companionship.
This is a great read for mystery fans. David was inspired to read the series from the start and is currently reading the first Serafina Florio mystery. I don’t know when I’ll have time but would also love to read them straight through and experience a little vacation in Sicily.
You can read an excerpt and buy Death In Bagheria (A Serafina Florio Mystery Book 3) by Susan Russo Anderson on