Broken Chord: the first Jacopo Dragonetti mystery, by Margaret Moore

I’m an avid reader of the books featuring Inspectors Montalbano, Brunetti and Bordelli by Andrea Camilleri, Donna Leon and Marco Vichi respectively, so it’s always interesting to come across a ‘new kid on the block’. This time the crime investigator is Jacopo Dragonetti, State Prosecutor for the Province of Luca. This is the first outing for this character so we have to be given hints and tips on his background and character so:

  • His father was famous: famous for being Judge Dragonetti, the one killed in a car bomb years earlier;
  • This Dragonetti is known as Drago – the Dragon;
  • He lives in a wing of the family Palazzo in Florence;
  • He loves opera and his girlfriend, who is younger than him, is a music critic, travels a lot and enjoys concerts and meals out when she’s at home;
  • Finally, in the first few pages, a young stray kitten adopts him.

So the stage is set for the crime. And from here on in, it all becomes very ‘Agatha Christie’ like. I don’t mean this as a particular criticism, just that there are so many similarities. The initial crime is the brutal murder of Ursula von Bachmann in the family home (big isolated country pile – Christie check). The door to the room where Ursula is found is locked from the inside and French Windows are open, which is very unusual (Christie check). The various members of her family and her soon-to-be new husband are all living in the family home, and the family don’t like the soon-to-be new husband (Christie check). There are two older family retainers – staff that have been with the family for many years (Christie check). From there on in the story focuses on each of these individuals, pointing alarm bells at each one in turn so that you have to keep shifting your thoughts on who-dunnit. Later on another murder is committed, but is it connected to the first one? (mega Christie check).

So I strolled through the reading of this. Some aspects of the crime(s) are pretty brutual but the whole effect was a bit soporific to be honest, but I did enjoy it. Did I guess who the culprit was? Yes, in part, but not all. I will look out for the next book – presumably as this is billed as the first mystery, there will be more. I await it with interest (but not excited anticipation).

Review by S Sim

Broken Chord is published by McNidder and Grace (who also brought us Torquil Macleod’s Malmo series)

broken chord

One comment

  1. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and just wish there was more publicity surrounding it; there are a great number of people who through this lack will miss out on a very clever detective novel. Looking forward to reading the follow-up.

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