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If you are starting to think of books to put on your Christmas wish-list, here is a suggestion from Maggie. We may put up a few more in the weeks that follow.

The Phoenix of Florence is a vivid evocation of a brutal era in Italian history. We are introduced to a senior member of the forces of law and order in Florence: a man of power who also shows surprising sensitivity and compassion for the position of women in his male-dominated society. Someone who, all the while, is guarding an astounding secret of his own.

I relished Philip Kazan’s use of language and marveled at the complexity of his plot as I raced through the pages of the book. It reminded me, in places, of C J Sansom’s Shardlake – until the story takes a shocking twist into the back story of its main character and makes you question everything you have previously learned about Comandante Celavini.

If you enjoy thrillers, mysteries and historical fiction that transports you breathlessly into a different time and place, this book delivers on all three counts.