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The Laureate
August 1464: Young Nico Argenti returns from the university with a law degree. He is eager to begin his career, but instead finds his city of Florence shaken by the death of Cosimo de Medici, patriarch of the Medici dynasty. Power hungry aristocrats see that as the perfect opportunity to seize control of the Republic. A Florentine Chancellor, who has been tracking Nico’s accomplishments at the university, recruits Nico to uncover details of the plot before it can destabilize the goverment. Nico is drawn into the hunt for a hired assassin that pits his youthful idealism against sinister reality.
Set in Renaissance Florence, Tentarelli’s impressive debut, a series launch, makes effective use of the period’s intrigues. Cosimo de Medici’s 30-year reign as the leader of the Republic of Florence has just ended with his death in August 1464, leaving a “political vacuum in the Republic.” Nico Argenti, who has recently earned his law degree from the University of Bologna, is drawn into the turmoil when he’s summoned to a meeting with Bartolomeo Scala, the Republic’s second Chancellor. Scala fears that unrest over Cosimo’s successor will make it vulnerable to foreign powers, given reports that some of those jockeying for political leadership are seeking the assistance of other countries. Nico agrees to “gather information in different places as the situation demands” in order to fill in some of the gaps in the Chancery’s intelligence apparatus. This assignment leads to peril and Nico’s involvement in trying to thwart an assassination. Tentarelli makes the setting accessible to neophytes in the service of a page-turning and suspenseful plot. Readers will eagerly await the sequel. (BookLife)