Monday, January 9, 2012

The King’s Agent-Donna Russo Morin

The King’s Agent

Donna Russo Morin

Kensington, Feb 28 2012, $15.00

ISBN 9780758246820

Battista della Palla understands his role, if he wants to live, is to obtain by any means necessary masterpieces for his patron King François I of France. He and his seven man crew have been so successful that Battista is a favorite of the monarch and residents of Florence enjoy the royal patronage.

King François I and his only viable rival for ruling Western Europe King Charles V of Spain appear on the brink of turning their cultural cold war into heated deadly hostilities. Needing an edge, François sends his top royal art procurer to obtain (Battista knows that connotes steal) an ancient Greek sculpture protected by dangerous guardians as the relic allegedly will lead to the owner reigning victoriously. As he and his unit begin the trek across Italy, Lady Aurelia sneaks away from her overbearing guardian the Marquess of Mantua Federica of Gonzaga. Aurelia manages to join the traveling troupe though she conceals from her benefactor an inconvenient truth.

Using real persona like the hero (an art agent for Francois I) and the Marquess to anchor time and place, Donna Russo Morin provides another wonderful Renaissance thriller (see To Serve a King and The Secret of the Glass). The action-packed historical story line is enhanced by engaging fantasy elements, a bittersweet romance, homage to Dante’s Divine Comedy, and the schism between Da Vinci (paintings) and Michelangelo (sculptures). Fast-paced, readers will want to tour sixteenth century Italy with the King’s Agent as their guide.

Harriet Klausner

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