2019 Silver Falchion Winner
Treachery in Tuscany
By Phyllis Gobbell
Encircle Publications, LLC
Publication Date: January 2018
Treachery in Tuscany
Treachery in Tuscany by Phyllis C. Gobbell captures the essence of Florence and the countryside, which helps to enhance the plot and its subplots. The description “south of the Arno River” (pg. 8) effortlessly transports the reader to the “piazzas dominated by the magnificent churches, Santa Croce and Santa Maria Novella, the Piazza della Signoria with its old Town Hall, and the Medici family’s palace…” (pg.10). Even the lines for the tour and the climbing of the stairs of the Duomo are essential for evoking a taste of the city of Florence. However, it is the last statement, “And that was how I would think of Sophia Costa—Sophie—even when nightmares blurred my memories” (pg.4) that ends the first chapter and entices the reader to continue. Ms. Gobbell keeps one riveted to uncovering the mystery of Sophia’s murder and her connection with the other characters in the book. The narrative’s steady pace builds tension in the plots and subplots.
By placing her characters within the confines of a city draped in historic mystery and intrigue juxtaposed with the essence of the nearby countryside struggling to maintain its identity, the undercurrents of betrayal and duplicity become pronounced. The innocent in these situations become the victims of the deceitful. In Treachery in Tuscany, the fragmentation of relationships becomes evident for all characters involved, which keeps the reader captivated while the setting provides a solid framework for the novel.
The two fragmented sentences that introduce the novel convey Jordon’s emotional reaction to the events she describes to the reader. The realization of finding oneself in another country that one has visited, even briefly, is like greeting an old friend after many years of separation. The excitement and the realization of Jordon’s journey speaks to the audience as her relationships develop through the pages. Her reaction to Sophia, a young girl, who becomes entwined in the mystery, portrays Jordon as a caring mother. Her relationship with her uncle, Alex, also reflects her commitment to family ties, as does her shock in leaning of the conceit of Raffaele, a member of the Moretti family. Her meaningful relationships with other characters are built upon solid foundations. At times, however, her relationship with Paul, her love interest, does present moments of tension that help to move toward a climax in the novel.
Her nemesis in the novel, Bella, is the catalyst for Jordon and Paul’s misunderstandings, which leave the tenacious Jordon at a crossroad in her relationship with Paul. By the end of the novel, however, conflicts are resolved, and Florence, once again holds memories that may propel her to the next encounter.
Joy Gorence is new to Killer Nashville. She is an author, world-traveler, English professor (ret.), and avid reader. Originally from Long Island, NY she now lives in South Florida with her husband, Bill and their two pampered kitties.