The Stone Eye: the First medieval noir about the birth of Venice

p. 75  “The scent of the library greeted him like a warm and welcoming bed: thItalian eyestonee acetate aroma of the inks, the acrid wilderness smell of the parchment, the perfume of dust and resin that had impregnated the wooden shelves…How he loved this place!” 

As  a calligrapher, papermaker, and librarian I could not resist this title which combines the former with my love of Italy and the mystery genre. In bocca al lupo!

La Pietra Per Gli Occhi is a first novel for Roberto Tiraboschi translated from the Italian by the deft skills of Katherine Gregor who carries the feel of his words throughout.  It is as dark as story as the medieval 12th c. setting of Venice – one of superstition, fearful encounters, ominous waterways of filth and decay. Yet, it is in such a setting that the search for brilliant discovery is sought by a young monk having abandoned himself to the Church, and  leaving all his senses sublimated except of sight, which is failing.  In this teaming wasteland of sensual decadence, he risks his soul for the illusive stone.

Noir is the definitive descriptive term. It is no surprise to uncover that Tiraboschi, while a first-time author, is an experienced and talented screenwriter. The story permeates with sensations one after another – you  smell the putrid odors, you feel the bitter weather in your bones, and you will swear that your eyes, too, are failing along with Edgardo’s.  This is not a mystery for lovers of British bucolic settings, but rather for those who are not afraid of the dark.

 

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