The City of Falling Angels
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Twelve years ago, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil exploded into a monumental success, residing a record-breaking four years on the New York Times bestseller list (longer than any work of fiction or nonfiction had before) and turning John Berendt into a household name. The City of Falling Angels is Berendt's first book since Midnight, and it immediately reminds one what all the fuss was about. Turning to the magic, mystery, and decadence of Venice, Berendt gradually reveals the truth behind a sensational fire that in 1996 destroyed the historic Fenice opera house. Encountering a rich cast of characters, Berendt tells a tale full of atmosphere and surprise as the stories build, one after the other, ultimately coming together to portray a world as finely drawn as a still-life painting.
four-year prison term; for his two assistants, two years; and for the top management of the Fenice, the general manager and the secretary-general, three years. Arguments for the defense all had one theme in common: the denial of responsibility. Officials at the top pointed sideways and downward. Those at the bottom pointed up. The most novel defense was offered by the lawyer for Gianfranco Pontel, the Fenice’s general manager. Pontel’s attorney claimed, at great length and with a straight face,
I haven’t shelved the file. I have it all on computer. And I promise you that if something happens, I’ll let you know. I haven’t told you everything. I have to be honest with you. I haven’t told you everything.” Whatever it was that Giovanni Seno was holding back from me, it could not have been much comfort to Massimiliano Marchetti, who was serving time in a jail in Padua—the same jail Seno’s old Mafia client, Felice “Angel Face” Maniero, had broken out of a few years before. I went to Salzano
the water taxis. And of course it would be sheer madness for anybody to try making a getaway in a boat by himself. The lagoon may look like a tranquil pond, but it’s really very treacherous. One has to know all about the currents, the channels, the sandbars, the tides, the speed limit, and the meaning of all the buoys and signal lights. Anyway, the boat would probably be noticed by all the boatmen in the lagoon—they all know every boat. “And anyone who wanted to kidnap you would somehow have to
sealed off and drained so work crews could dredge the silt and sludge from it and repair its walls for the first time in forty years. The canal between the Segusos’ building and the back of the Fenice was now a deep, muddy gulch with a tangle of exposed pipes and a few pieces of heavy machinery sitting in puddles at the bottom. The empty canal would make it impossible for fireboats to reach the Fenice, and, worse than that, it would deprive them of a source of water. Venetian firemen depended on
being arrested worry you?” “Not if it’s for a good cause.” “It’s for the Fenice.” “Well, then, fine,” I said. With Zucchetta rowing in front and a professional gondolier handling the stern oar, we made our way to the Grand Canal, where we turned right and headed toward St. Mark’s. De Luigi was laughing and joking, but I noticed he was looking up and down the canal, his eyes darting from boat to boat, looking to see who else was on the water, police boats in particular. We were passing the