Robert Broke, a recent widower, had withstood the charms of Florence and confined himself to his rare-book store there. But his knowledge of Etruscan art and a lavish party given by eccentric Professor Bronzini pulled Robert out of his shell. This delighted Elizabeth, who had her eyes on him, and Tina who kept house for him and had become more than fond of him. Professor BRobert Broke, a recent widower, had withstood the charms of Florence and confined himself to his rare-book store there. But his knowledge of Etruscan art and a lavish party given by eccentric Professor Bronzini pulled Robert out of his shell. This delighted Elizabeth, who had her eyes on him, and Tina who kept house for him and had become more than fond of him. Professor Bronzini not only gave elaborate parties but he was busily excavating his family's tombs, full of superb relics. Tina's father, a great craftsman, if rather too fond of his vino, was helping the professor restore these treasures....
|Title||:||The Family Tomb|
|Number of Pages||:||265 Pages|
|Status||:||Available For Download|
|Last checked||:||21 Minutes ago!|
The Family Tomb Reviews
In Michael Gilbert's The Family Tomb (1969; aka The Estrucan Net) British expatriate Robert Broke finds himself in the middle of a far-reaching web of intrigue which has at its center the eccentric Professor Bronzini and Estrucan art. Broke left England behind when the British judicial system allowed the lorry driver who killed his wife and unborn child to get off with a mild fine for "dangerous driving" and has since spent his time running a rare book store in Florence. Broke is also something of an expert on Estrucan artifacts, having written a book on the subject himself. His involvement in the intrigue begins innocently enough when he accompanies his friend Commander Comber to home of Professor Bronzini for a modified Estrucan orgy--a night filled with wine, food, art, and, for those who taken themselves discreetly away, possibly other pleasures. Professor Bronzini invites Broke to come and look over the Estrucan tombs found on his property...tombs that the professors employees are currently involved in excavating. Broke takes him up on his offer and manages to spy what looks like a remarkable find in one of the rooms he's not encouraged to look into. Then an elderly craftsman by the name of Milo Zecchi who does work for both Broke and the professor becomes unaccountably worried. His assistant spies on him and two unsavory characters arrive on the fast train from Rome at Florence station. Both are dressed in charcoal grey suits, carry bulging suitcases, and, although it is a warm summer evening, they are wearing gloves.Zecchi finally summons enough courage to arrange to speak to Broke about what is on his mind, but he is fearful of being followed. So he makes an appointment to meet the Englishman where he believes they will be unobserved. But he never arrives. Before he knows what has happened Broke is arrested and charged with having run the old man down in his car. He knows he didn't do it and his friends rally round, but the evidence piles up against him. It's obvious he's being framed--but by whom? Why was the old man prevented from talking to him? And, since he didn't get a chance to hear what was on Zecchi's mind, why is still necessary to get Broke out of the way? Finding the police efforts to be entirely engaged in proving Broke's guilt, Commander Comber, Broke's housekeeper (and, incidentally, Zecchi's daughter) Tina, The British Consul, and his daughter Elizabeth (who incidentally has her eye on Broke) come together to discover the real killer of Zecchi and the plot behind the murder of an innocent old man and the framing of another innocent. Comber's investigations find connections from every quarter leading to the professor. But is Bronzini the real mastermind? Or is someone else using him as a blind?The real delight in this book is the characters--particularly the women. There is Miss Plant, who is "in every sense of the word, the leading lady of the English colony in Florence." She is a throwback to an earlier era, when ladies went about with retinues who smoothed the way and saw that every need was met and every wish anticipated. She had been in Italy since the beginning of the century.The accident that Italy had happened to be on the wrong side in the Second World War had not incommoded her at all....It was true that the Italian authorities, badgered beyond endurance by the Germans, and after exhausting every excuse for delay, had eventually agreed to take Miss Plant into custody as an enemy alien. The experiment had not been a success. She had allowed herself to be driven to the Questura, and had sat there upright, unmoving, and unspeaking, during the remainder of the day and the night following, acknowledging the arrival of evening only by elevating the umbrella she had brought with her. She had refused all food and drink. The thought that Miss Plant might actually starve to death, under umbrella, in his outer office had so unnerved the Questore that he had preferred to brave the wrath of the Germans, and had returned her to her villa under very nominal house arrest.There is also Robert Broke's sister, Felicia who arrives on the scene to provide funds for a proper defense, having already arranged things with the Governor of the Bank of England--"Five minutes talk and the thing was fixed. I have found that men of intelligence usually see my points quite quickly." She assumes charge of proceedings "in the brisk way in which, Elizabeth felt sure, she had chaired countless Women's Institutes and Mothers' Unions." She also has set the British Consul straight on where his duty lies and when he starts quoting procedure and laws to her, tells him that she never thought she'd see the day that a British Consul would extol the virtues of Italian law. Commander Comber is awed by her decisive actions and the whirlwind methods of getting her way.Put her in charge of the Navy, thought the Commander, and we might still have a few aircraft carriers.And then there's Tina, who isn't about to let a couple Mafia-backed thugs get in her way when it comes to helping Signore Roberto and avenging her father. When she and Mercurio, Professor Bronzini's adopted son, are confronted by the men in a diner, she leaps into the battle with a pool cue. She "swung it carefully, like a golfer addressing a drive, and hit the stout man very hard on the back of the head, just above the point where his neck joined his skull." She is fearless and willing to do whatever necessary to free Broke and get to the bottom of the plot that killed her father. Gilbert has loaded this book with strong female characters who don't need a man to get things done. Not that Mercurio didn't hold his own in that fight--but it was not a case of him saving the damsel in distress.The mystery plot is good, if a tad intricate and not quite as mysterious one might like in a crime novel. The real question is not who did it but how will his friends prove to the authorities that Broke is innocent...and, incidentally, provide evidence of the real crime in the process. The strength of the characters and the Italian setting really drive the star rating up to ★★★★ that would have been five if the plot had been a little less obvious. First posted on my blog My Reader's Block. Please request permission before reposting. Thanks.
Robert Broke moves to Florence after the tragic death of his wife and unborn child, and stumbles into a conspiracy to fake and sell Etruscan artifacts about which he knows far too much for the comfort of the crooks. His friends rally round to find out the truth.There's your generic capsule summary of the plot, and it's a good one, but oh, the characters are lovely, especially the expatriate English, as for exampleMiss Plant was, in every sense of the word, the leading lady of the English colony in Florence. She had been there since around the beginning of the century. The accident that Italy had happened to be on the wrong side in the Second World War had not incommoded her at all. It had, in truth, served to emphasize her standing and increase her prestige. It was true that the Italian authorities, badgered beyond endurance by the Germans, and after exhausting every excuse for delay, had eventually agreed to take Miss Plant into custody as an enemy alien. The experiment had not been a success.to the extreme discomfort and eventual post-war social ostracism of the Questore, the Italian official who had so briefly taken her into custody. Then there is the English counsel, Sir Gerald Weighhill, pronounced "Whale"in case there is any doubt after the following passage:Sir Gerald was the finest specimen of all Weighhills to date. He turned the scale, in his underpants, at two hundred fifty pounds, moved with the majesty of an aircraft carrier, and needed, unkind persons asserted, almost as much seaway to turn in. While he was still at an early age it had become clear that such talents must lead him into the Foreign Service.And so it does. There are some marvelous Italian characters, like Tina and her mother Annunziata, Marco the Sindaco and Riccasole the attorney, and the bad guys are conscienceless enough to send a chill down the spine, and the setting is wish-you-were-there Tuscany. A fun read all around.
Very interesting to read this since I have also been watching the Montalbano series as well. A highly detailed work is as focused on people as it is the crime. It gives a picture of not only crime, but the judicial system of Italy as well.Like Dickens, this story weaves through all levels of life and personality. It starts slow and methodical, but the devil is in the details. Yet another kind of mystery from Gilbert. Others I have read have involved more police dramas. This one involved more people outside trying to unravel a crime.
Stogy but somewhat entertaining story of an English boookseller who is accused of murder in Florence. Lots of stock characters, the eccentric English-expat who knows more about Florence than the natives, the diplomat and his daughters who have no visible means of support, the evil Sicilian assassins, the Etruscan conoisseur who takes things too far....
Is the professor finding Etruscan artifacts or is he faking them? Why was Milo killed? He knew something. But now the one person who could have spotted the fraud, if there was one, is in jail, and his friends have to investigate to get him out. Very good with a strong setting.
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