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Inamorata Paperback – February 22, 2005
From Publishers Weekly
Set in the Roaring '20s and steeped in period detail, this energetic debut is narrated by one Martin Finch, a psychology graduate student at Harvard. Possessed of a wry sense of humor, a practical intelligence and an appropriately skeptical interest in the supernatural, Finch is tapped by the department chairman, Dr. William McLaughlin, to help him judge a Scientific American contest that promises $5,000 to anyone with "conclusive evidence of psychic phenomena." Before Finch and McLaughlin arrive in Manhattan for their first encounter with the paranormal, Gangemi has given the reader a thumbnail history of the Spiritualist movement, which had its heyday in the years after World War I and was championed by the likes of Arthur Conan Doyle. History notwithstanding, the narrative moves at a brisk pace: Finch and McLaughlin quickly expose two mediums as frauds before evaluating the formidable talents of Mina Crawley, the wife of a Philadelphia doctor. Finch travels to Philly as McLaughlin's agent to meet the lovely and charming seeress, and stays for several weeks in the Crawley household as he wrestles with his central conflict: his affection for Mina versus his mandate to determine whether she's a fraud. The novel turns into a slightly bawdy thriller, and the narrative vigor rarely flags as Finch pursues strange paths in the City of Brotherly Love. Gangemi is an extremely adept writer, though frequent wisecracks and references to popular songs and consumer products of the 1920s wear thin. His plot, too, is a bit weak, but this is an undeniably clever concept and an enjoyable read.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Gangemi is an extremely adept writer... an undeniably clever concept and an enjoyable read. -- Publishers Weekly
Truly wicked... an historical thriller on a par with The Alienist. -- Steven Katz, screenwriter of Shadow of the Vampire
Wonderful... I stayed up very late reading this, and the characters got into my dreams. -- Audrey Niffenegger, author of The Time Travelers Wife
Top customer reviews
The tale entertains with descriptions of clever methods concocted by the young investigator from Harvard to debunk spiritualism.
More a psychological mystery than a traditional who-dunnit, we are left with open ended questions to ponder. The struggle between belief and disbelief, the irrationality of romance versus the practicality of scientific reason is the underlying theme. Do we trust the heart or the head?
Those looking for endings where all is solved and neatly explained might not like the book as much but I appreciated that we are given plenty to ponder.
I am disappointed I can't find any other books by this author. Although "Inamorta" was his first historic thriller, it certainly would be tragic if it is his last.
Among the many positive aspects of the book are the incredible descriptive techniques that are as penetrating as I any I've read in a long time. Gangemi provides a perfectly seamless ride to his 1922 locales and once there, richly developed characters come alive. By the time this tight novel reaches its end you feel know each of them like an old friend. The subtle strengths of Mina Crawley echo throughout, as she confounds the men around her ( who are also each intriguing in their own right) in ways that will haunt you long after you put the book down.
There is not a wasted word in the novel. The clear, concise narrative moves the plot along at exactly the right pace while the reader subconsciously digests themes as diverse as a young man's coming of age, the complexities of familial relationships, and the ongoing battle between science and faith. Or it can just be thoroughly enjoyed as an old fashioned ghost story. Either way, this a terrific book, and one I recommend highly.
INAMORATA is not a true mystery in the usual definition of the genre. No murders occur but the mystery lies in finding the proof that Mina is a fraud. The book is clever and quite a bit of fun. The historical era is very well depicted in this atmospheric novel filled with realistic characters. The length is perfect for the plot and the solution is both clever and satisfying. A recommended read.