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Death of a Serpent (Serafina Florio #1)

3.32  ·  Rating Details ·  162 Ratings  ·  44 Reviews
Three bodies . . . A dark secret . . . And one woman determined to uncover the truth. Sicily, October 1866. At a high-class house near Palermo, three women are knifed to death, their foreheads slashed with a strange mark, their bodies dumped on the madam's doorstep. Infuriated with the inept police inspector who does nothing to solve the crimes, the madam summons her frien ...more
Paperback, 275 pages
Published May 28th 2012 by Conca d'Oro Publishing (first published January 7th 2012)
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Guido Mattioni
Mar 17, 2012 Guido Mattioni rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've just ended reading Susan Russo Anderson's novel Death of a Serpent. And there is just one word I can use: "Bravo"! I'm sorry, I correct myself: I've to say her "Bravo" almost three time. The first time as a common reader who found himself immersed in a crime case from the first until the last page. The second time as a colleague writer who did envy Susan's ability in telling us a nineteenth century mystery case with the catching and pressing tecnique of a modern movie. And the third time as ...more
George Hamilton
Jul 17, 2012 George Hamilton rated it really liked it
With finely written prose rich in historical imagery, sound and other sense details of 1800s Sicily, Death of a Serpent was reminiscent of The Last Kabbalist of Lisbon for this reader.

Recently widowed Serafina is a determined sleuth, adept at solving other people’s problems, which sometimes causes her to neglect her own family issues. She is called on by her good friend Rosa, the successful owner of a high class brothel, to investigate the murders of several of her prostitutes. Why are the women
Melissa Levine
Oct 12, 2012 Melissa Levine rated it did not like it
Shelves: mystery
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Marilou George
Jan 16, 2012 Marilou George rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sicily 1866, Serafina Floria midwife, mother of seven and a widow mourning the recent death of her husband from the cholera outbreak and the death of her beloved mother. Even though Serafina is in the midst of her own grief and turmoil she agrees to investigate the murders of three prostitutes working for her oldest and dearest friend Rosa, owner of the brothel.

This is a time in Italy where the Mafia was the law of the land and corruption was the norm. We meet the colorful and complex character
May 25, 2012 Kathy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
How I choose my star ratings:
1 = Groaner. Probably didn't even finish it.
2 = Yawner. Poorly written or weak story.
3 = Recliner. Sat back in my cozy chair and enjoyed the read.
4 = Page Turner. Hard to put down.
5 = Keeper. A story that stays with me.

This tale of intrigue and murder in a house of ill-repute set in 1866 Sicily is an enjoyable read. The main characters are feisty women. The supporting cast is varied and colorful. The sleuth, Serafina, reminds me a bit of Hercule Poirot in her approac
Feb 14, 2012 Rita rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: carp-books
I tried to persevere with this book but it's just not worth it. It's a jumble of words with sentences that are incomplete and others that just don't make sense. The story jumps from paragraph to paragraph without structure. Characters and locations are not developed and are introduced haphazardly. Names of characters and places are just thrown in without explanation of who they are or description. The period is not represented accurately and is portrayed in a manner that is not representative of ...more
Jun 12, 2012 Patricia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, kindle
1866, Sicily

A bossy/nosey/feisty widow Serafina Floria solves murders when the police haven't a clue or an interest in the killings. Interesting strong women,
faithful servants, and the beginnings of the mafia.
May 10, 2013 Paige rated it it was amazing
Excellent. Very unique voice, loved the atmosphere, the characters. Great read!
Oct 20, 2012 Rebecca rated it liked it
Shelves: kindle-free
An enjoyable historical mysteries. Some things with the characters a little odd, but it works well enough. Good way to pass the evening and I wouldn't object to seeing how the series progresses.
Melinda Matthews
Mar 14, 2017 Melinda Matthews rated it it was amazing
This book was a period piece, a mystery-suspense, a character study and more. Serafina, our main character, is a woman of layers. She's a bit unpredictable, but so real you can see her ever moving, wrestling, growing. A pillar in her community, it's understandable she would be called upon by her childhood friend when others cannot help. Interesting to think that it's much like what she does as a midwife. I enjoyed my stay in Sicily and meeting all the unique players and characters in this story. ...more
May 03, 2013 Wendy rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Wendy by: Goodreads Giveaways
Death of a Serpent which I won from Goodreads Giveaways is one of the best historical murder-mysteries I have ever read. The story is set in Italy during a period of chaos; the poor are starving, bandits roam freely, and men flock to join General Garibaldi in his fight to unify the country. As the plot opens the latest murder victim has been found on the doorstep of a high-class house of prostitution near Palermo. When Inspector Colonna fails to help find the killer, Madam Rosa seeks the aid of ...more
Gayle Hayes
Feb 07, 2015 Gayle Hayes rated it it was amazing
Although the mystery in Death of a Serpent is its raison d'etre, for me it was only one of many reasons I enjoyed the story set in a tumultuous period of history in Sicily.

The setting comes to life with descriptions that are so artfully written I seemed to see them rather than to read them. From the ordinary citizen to the well-heeled, the author recreated life in the 19th century while involving all the reader's senses. I felt the anxiety, saw the gorgeous gowns of the prostitutes, smelled the
This book probably deserves a higher rating than what I've given it but I had difficulty reading it. I don't know if the way people spoke in Sicily in 1866 was the problem or if it was an editing issue, but I struggled with it. I also thought that the transition from one chapter to another was a little rough, I found myself wondering if I'd missed something. All that being said, I really enjoyed the mystery aspect of the book and the midwife/detective that works at solving the crime. Serafina Fl ...more
Book Him Danno
For starters I enjoyed this mystery and found the characters interesting along with the Madam. I was confused at a few spots and needed to read some of the book again. The mystery was enough to keep me guessing but I really missed the boat on who the killer was. I was surprised and needed to go back and figure out where we had met this character, the name was familiar I just couldn't place them.

I read this at night before bed and I hate to say it, but I kept falling asleep and waking up with my
Theresa Jewell
Aug 19, 2015 Theresa Jewell rated it liked it
Recommended to Theresa by:
For fans of historical fiction and suspense, Death of a Serpent offers an intriguing romp through 1866 Sicily with Serafina Florio, a sharp-witted midwife and widow who has been recruited to investigate the deaths of several local prostitutes at the hands of a religious psychopath. Anderson's exciting concept, however, is greatly diminished by sub par editing, underdeveloped details, and awkward syntax. Fortunately, I was able to ignore most of these issues after acclimating to the author's styl ...more
Jan 12, 2012 Carol rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Serafina is a widowed midwife from Sicily in the mid 1800's. Her childhood friend, Rosa is the madame of a local brothel. After three of her ladies are murdered and the police seem to be making little progress, Rosa, implores her friend to help solve the murders. Driven by loyalty to her friend and a deeply personal quest, Serafina agrees to help putting her family and herself at risk.

Author Susan Russo Anderson has crafted a novel that I would describe as dark, yet intriguing. Her use of langua
Apr 27, 2015 Josetta rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
This didn't entirely suck, but I've read much better mystery books. The biggest problem I had with it was the author used a lot of Sicilian words and events without really explaining them too much. Thank God for Google! When the final "reveal" happened, I didn't really remember the events that supported who the culprit was, even when all of it was revealed. Also, the heroine's mother was pretty unnecessary and, honestly, I did not see this "no-nonsense" woman as one who would be given to such th ...more
Marcia Carrington
Sep 17, 2014 Marcia Carrington rated it it was amazing
Mother, midwife and sleuth Serafina Florio is enlisted by her friend, madam Rosa, to find the killer of her prostitutes in 1860s Sicily. The killer marks their victims with the symbol of a brazen serpent, and as the death count begins to rise, Serafina is on the case, but will she succeed in finding the perpetrator of these heinous crimes?

This is an intriguing, well-crafted murder mystery with great characters who are portrayed with sympathy by the author. While the murders do not take a backsea
A great mystery where the sleuth is a mid-wife, Serafina, who helps her childhood friend, brothel owner Rosa to solve who is murdering her girls. Set in Sicily in 1866, when Italy and Sicily are knee-deep in wars and Mafia Dons offer protection at a price, the police chief does not have time to solve the murders. Rosa and Serafina, and Serafina's large family are great characters; the descriptions of Polermo, Sicily beautiful. I had a bit of trouble with the writing style. The author uses a synt ...more
Kelly Knapp
Aug 31, 2012 Kelly Knapp rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: history buffs, mystery buffs
Recommended to Kelly by: Goodreads Firstreads giveaway
Serafina is a wonderful, strong protagonist who is more than willing to tamper with evidence in order to find the murderer of high class escorts of Sicely's upperclass. I loved Serafina's handling of the infant, sweet, kind, and gentle, ensuring that it was taken in at the orphanage.

Anderson write with a fluency I have rarely seen and her history of nineteenth century Sicily is breathtaking. Inspector Colonna is priceless. It is hilarious to read of a chauvinism most of us have never experienced
Nikki Bywater
This is a murder mystery set in Sicily in 1866.

Serafina is a forty something widow, who works as a midwife. Rosa is her childhood friend who works running the local brothel. When three of Rosa’s prostitutes are murdered, the police chief does not put the time or effort into solving the murders. Serafina decides to step in as sleuth and help her friend solve the crimes.

I did enjoy reading about the characters in this book. It did take me a little time to get into the book, but the story soon had
Jul 23, 2012 Mary rated it it was amazing
This is a great mystery, I hope there will be many more Serafina Florio mysteries to follow. The personalities of the characters really shine through. I especially loved the details about sewing and cooking in 19th century Sicily - I love both activities and the history imparted in these descriptions is fascinating.

As for the story line, there are a few details that are left to the reader's interpretation toward the end - I really liked that, I think it's more true to life. Susan gives you enoug
Aug 01, 2012 Jordyn rated it really liked it
This book was a fantastic read. If mystery (and just a generally exceptional storyline) is your thing, I would definitely recommend this book. Susan Russo Anderson has you rushing to findout the ending. I can't wait to read the rest of the series, it was absolutely hard to put down.
I would say more, but I don't wanna give out any spoilers, so you'll have to check it out for yourself ;)

PS; Due to FTC guidelines I have to tell you guys about how I receives this book in the First Reads Giveaway
John Darling
Sep 28, 2012 John Darling rated it really liked it
I have to admit that when I first started reading this book, I was enthralled by it. The writing is excellent and the pace was good. But as the book went on and on and on, I became frustrated with it because I had figured out whodunit--or so I thought. Maybe there was too much. Silence. In it to suit me, but it did seem to drag on a bit.

As for whodunit, I was wrong in my assumption and totally disappointed by the "real" killer. There was a great opportunity here for some high drama but the autho
Margaret Hren
Jun 12, 2014 Margaret Hren rated it really liked it
A fun discovery -- the first book in a mystery series that takes place in Sicily in the late 1800, with a midwife and widow as a sleuth. Though there were a few sections that dragged a little, it was a great story that brought in all the elements of a good mystery that kept you guessing. Ms. Anderson's storytelling voice and plotting with a great cast of characters who are intertwined reminds me of my favorite mystery writer Anne Perry. Can't wait to read the next one in this series.
Sheila Coldiron
Oct 29, 2013 Sheila Coldiron rated it it was amazing
In 1866 three prostitutes are knifed to death in Sicily Italy. The police are not helpful so the Madam asks her best friend, a widow, to find the killer. Added to that it is six years after the unification and Sicily is in chaos. Bandits rule the hills, waves of cholera kill thousands, and the mafia is for the first time exerting is reign of terror. This book is very well written and in addition, gives a good insight into Italy and Sicily in the 1800s.
Apr 17, 2016 Pat rated it liked it
Shelves: historical, mystery
I previously read the third book in this series, so I know the writing gets better and the characters easier to follow. This book introduces Serafina and her Sicily. I enjoyed the setting and the mystery itself, but sometimes the writing style seemed to be channeling Yoda. Annoying, it is. The story would have flowed much smoother without it.
Gaye Nell Hebrink
May 22, 2015 Gaye Nell Hebrink rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good reading

It has been awhile since I have read an entire book in less than a week. The writer kept me interested with her Italian food, words, and lifestyle. Mid 1800's during a time of great unrest.
Not a 5 star because I had to look up too many words. Even though I understood the general meaning by the use, I wanted to know details about the foreign words.
Harish Puvvula
Feb 13, 2012 Harish Puvvula rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wonderful mystery. However, most unsettling part is the slew of characters in the novel. Well it is slightly confusion, but nothing to complain about. Serefina, the protagonist, mid-wife turned detective captures the imagination. Wish the novel could be stripped off some fillers, to make the narration taunt
Brandi  Hansen
Jun 07, 2015 Brandi Hansen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A great mystery!

This was definitely one of the best mysteries I've read in a long time. Death of a Serpent is very well written and will keep the reader interested. There is never a dull moment in this mystery. Susan Russo Anderson is such a great and talented writer. I've read a few of her works before and can not wait to read more!
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Susan Russo Anderson is a writer, a mother, a member of Sisters in Crime, a graduate of Marquette University. She's taught language arts and creative writing, worked for a publisher, an airline, an opera company. Like Faulkner's Dilsey, she's seen the best and the worst, the first and the last. Through it all, and to understand it somewhat, she writes.

TOO QUIET IN BROOKLYN, the first in the Fina F
More about Susan Russo Anderson...

Other Books in the Series

Serafina Florio (4 books)
  • No More Brothers (Serafina Florio, #2)
  • Death In Bagheria (Serafina Florio, #3)
  • Murder On The Rue Cassette (Serafina Florio, #4)

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