I have sat down several times to write a review of Imprimatur and, quite frankly, the way to describe this outstanding 2002 published book has defeated me. But, never one to give up, and now into the first sequel of this book, I have turned my mind to this review.
Imprimatur is based in Rome of 1683. The Battle of Vienna lies in the background and Pope Innocent XI holds the papal throne. A famous tavern in Rome is placed under quarantine due to a suspected outbreak of the plague. The occupants of this tavern are diverse, mysterious, fascinating and include Atto Melani, a spy in the service of Louis XIV. A young serving boy takes centre stage in the story when his employer, the owner of the tavern, falls ill and he is recruited by Atto as an ally and confidant. It is the relationship between these two and their nocturnal journeys through the underground passageways of Rome that bind all the characters together in a riverting, ever changing, and captivating historical drama, that makes this a page-turner for the ages.
It is a long read – 611 pages plus notes – but I cannot complain for I could not put it down. On publication it was boycotted by the Italian press and publishing world. Controversial it may have been at the time, for what reason I cannot determine, but it is a historical novel of the finest order. The sequel I am currently reading is living up to its predecessor….. Brilliant!!!!