Sunday, June 5, 2011

The Caravaggio Books: Review

I actually finished reading this one on June 2. But life has been very hectic here at the Reader's Block household--with our son's high school graduation and open house planning--so very little has been done in the blogging and reading world from Friday till now.

It's also been true that I'm having a little trouble with inspiration for this particular review. It's not that the book was bad. It wasn't. But then, it wasn't exactly a knock-out either. A nice, average little academic mystery (provided that you overlook the fact that Bernard Peterson uses several stereotypes from a few decades prior to the publication date--1992). It has decent plotting and a fairly engaging detective. I'm not entirely sold on the motive...I think Peterson could have worked up something a little more believable, but it works.

Here's what we've got:

One upper-level University that falls just short of Ivy League. Lots of tradition, lots of old boy network thanks to moneyed sons following in their dad's footsteps for many, many years. Lots of academic excellence as well. But in this atmosphere lurks a killer. Art professor Hilda Roberston is found stabbed to death in a carrel in the high security university library. It is up to Detective Philip Constanza to determine if the murder is a result of professional jealousy--Robertson is an unpublished, MA student who may have been hired over those more qualified--or something more personal and more elemental. A retired English professor is the next victim...again in the library. And now Constanza must try to find the threads that connect the two victims.

Overall, I think the most interesting character was the retired English professor. I would have liked to have seen more of him and his death certainly made me care a lot more about whether the killer would be caught. Peterson does a fairly good job of describing university life and the squabbles that occur. I couldn't find much info on Peterson, so I'm not sure if this was his first (and perhaps only?) book starring Detective Constanza. With a little work, he could certainly have built this into an intereseting series. Two stars out of five.

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