Kindly note: a proof copy of this book was supplied by the author in exchange for a review.
A world-weary adventuring count trying to salvage his family estate, a bad boy who wants to be good, a local gangster, and a search for hidden treasure. All this is packed into this very short novelette, running less than 60 pages.
Salvesto is the rather down-on-his-luck count. He has returned to Siena upon the death of his father, hoping that the acts which forced him into exile have been forgotten. Unfortunately, his father descended into madness near his end and seems to have sold off or, rumor has it, hidden away many of the family’s valuable art works.
The Count is in the process of selling off the last of his mother’s silver to the local crime boss Guelfetto when he meets Amadeo. The young horse rider has a gambling problem and failed to go along with Guelfetto’s scheme to throw a race to pay off his debt, so the vicious mobster is about to sell Amadeo into prostitution in Florence, Siena’s arch-enemy.
On a whim, Salvesto pays off Amadeo’s debt with the money that was supposed to pay down the loans that keep his family estate afloat. The deal effectively bonds Amadeo to Salvesto, but will he honor the debt? The Count thinks he can trust the younger man, but he could just be setting himself up for another mistake that will send him back into exile.
“If I Were Fire” is a nice, tight little story. It may leave you wanting a little more, but doesn’t disappoint by leaving too much out. You’ll get to know the characters and their background well enough to care how things turn out. And, for such a short story, it does manage quite a convincing cliffhanger towards the end. Although there’s nothing particularly memorable about the story, it will provide a satisfying read for a rainy winter night or two.
“If I Were Fire” is available from Amazon.