“No one could walk by night for fear of the of Falcon’s sudden descent into the city when, aided by his followers, he would seize and ravage….”

Oooh, I just love Du Maurier, she always delivers the goods. Armino Fabbio is working for Sunshine tours and while in Rome with his beef and barbarians (Americans and Brits) he comes across a down and out woman at the steps of a church, a woman who reminds him of someone from his childhood. Taking pity he slips her some money, but she later ends up murdered and Armino blames himself – if it hadn’t been for the money no one would have robbed and then murdered her – or so he reasons. Distraught over the woman’s identity he takes a holiday from his job and heads north to the city where he was born and where he recalls the murdered woman – Ruffano. Once there he finds himself and everyone around him being manipulated by a master puppeteer, who like Lazarus has returned from the dead.

Outside of that I’m not going to tell much more as I’d ruin it for the rest of you – read it for yourself. Du Maurier slowly builds her story into one heck of a climax as Armino finds himself in the midst of rival student factions and campus politics, all of which culminates in the final plot to recreate the “flight” of The Falcon, the first Duke of Ruffano, for the city festival – but will this flight end as disastrously as the first one? Despite a bit of a slow start, the finish was a nail-biter and she keeps you guessing until the very end. 4/5 stars.

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