The Jewels of Paradise by Donna Leon
Internationally praised for her Commissario Guido Brunetti series, Donna Leon’s first standalone novel features a widely different but equally compelling sleuth, Caterina Pellegrini. Caterina is a native Venetian, and like so many of them, she’s had to leave home to pursue her career. With a doctorate in baroque opera from Vienna, she lands in Manchester, England. Manchester, however, is no Venice. When Caterina gets word of a position back home, she jumps at the opportunity.
The job is an unusual one. After nearly three centuries, two locked trunks, believed to contain the papers of Agostino Steffani, a baroque composer have been discovered. Deeply-connected in religious and political circles, the composer died childless; now two Venetians, descendants of his cousins, each claim inheritance. Caterina’s job is to examine any papers found in the trunks to discover Steffani’s “testamentary disposition” of the composer. But when her research takes her in unexpected directions she begins to wonder just what secrets these trunks may hold. From a masterful writer, The Jewels of Paradise is a superb novel, a gripping tale of intrigue, music, history and greed.