Book review: The Phoenix of Florence by Philip Kazan

the phoenix of florence philip kazanThe Phoenix of Florence shifts tantalisingly between genres in its journey through Renaissance Tuscany. At first it seems like a police procedural – as the protagonist, Comandante Celavini, is woken to go and attend a crime scene in Florence and begin his investigation.

Then the discovery of a connection to his own life leads into an account of Celavini’s past as a mercenary and adventurer. Finally, the two elements of the story are brought together as Celavini acts on what he has learnt in the course of the investigation to address the injustices of the past.

If I’m being a bit vague, that’s intentional. There is so much in this story which is cleverly, gradually revealed. I particularly liked the subtle characterisation, and the voice of Celavini, who is strong but compassionate, respected but aloof.

This is a twisty and atmospheric historical mystery with a dash of action and adventure, which also asks questions about what people will do to gain and keep power in dangerous times.

I received a copy of The Phoenix of Florence from the publisher.
View The Phoenix of Florence on Goodreads

Like a good historical mystery? Take a look at my review of Morality Play by Barry Unsworth


  1. Great review., I loved this book but, like you, found it challenging to review without preventing readers experiencing the same delight at the clever elements as I did. I also really loved Philip’s previous book The Black Earth and have his two earlier books in my TBR pile.


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