Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Review: The Queen's Gambit by Diane A. S. Stuckart

In Milan in 1483, the duke. Ludovico Sforza has ordered his court engineer, Leonardo da Vinci, to prepare for a living chess match. During the match, one of the "pieces", the Conte de Ferrara is murdered. Ludovico, who does not trust his close associates, charges Leonardo to find out who the murderer is.

Leonardo is assisted in his detective work by his young apprentice Dino. Dino is actually Delfina della Fazia, a young woman who has run away from home to become an artist and to avoid marriage. She is pretending to be a young man because she knows that a woman would not be accepted as an apprentice to Leonardo or any other artist.  Her disguise must be carefully maintained because she lives and works with Leonardo's other young male apprentices.

This book is narrated by Dino. It is through her eyes that we see Leonardo and the activities of his apprentices as they prepare to do a mural on the last supper of Christ which will be in the monk's dining hall.  Leonardo's inventions will also play a part in the story.

The reader will learn about all types of people at the court of Milan. Unfortunately we do not learn much about the murdered man which makes it a little difficult to speculate on reasons why he would be killed. The personalities of Leonardo's apprentices and the members of the court whom Leonardo interviews are well drawn. There is also an look at the complicated diplomatic situation at this moment in Renaissance history.

I do recommend this book. It will appeal to mystery readers with an interest in the Renaissance or in art history.

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