The Alchemist’s Pursuit
Ace, Mar 2009, $15.00
Nostradamus respected throughout Venice and beyond for his clairvoyant skills is a tad grumpy because his rheumatism has nearly crippled him. His apprentice Alfeo, an impoverished noble, goes about his chores ignoring his master’s constant complaints when his mistress Violetta asks Nostradamus to find out who killed her friend and mentor courtesan Lucia. At the same time, the dying Giovanni sends someone to the house to tell something to Nostradamus, but he dies before he can reveal his closing remarks. Alfeo learns from a servant that the dead man wanted a killer brought to justice; a person who murdered a courtesan a week ago.
When Alfeo learns that another courtesan was killed, he informs Nostradamus who is interested in the serial killings. Their inquiries come to the attention of the Three, the ruling body of Venice who demand they desist in their investigation. Meanwhile Alfeo finds out that the killer was called “Honeycat “by the Courtesans who were killed.” This turns out to be the name of Zorzi Michiel. Eight years ago Zorys was accused of killing his father and Lucs though he fled the city to avoid conviction. The Michiel Palazzo is riddled with secrets with seemingly everyone having something to hide. Nostradamus believes if they can unravel each person’s secret, they will identify the killer of Zorzis’ father as he believes the son did not commit patricide.
The latest Alchemist saga (see THE ALCHEMIST'S CODE and THE ALCHEMIST'S APPRENTICE)takes place in an alternate Renaissance Italy where magic exists along side of science (so one might ask if Nostradamus could obtain magic to relive his chronic aches). The hero Alfeo remains obstinately resolute to solve the case before someone carves Honey Cat on his beloved Violetta who is also a courtesan. Inside a fun whodunit, master fantasist Dave Duncan makes his version of the latter half of sixteenth century Venice seem believable as THE ALCHEMIST’S PURSUIT is a terrific historical urban fantasy.