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The Rainaldi Quartet (Castiglione and Guastafeste #1)

3.73  ·  Rating details ·  345 Ratings  ·  69 Reviews
Who would want to kill Tomaso Rainaldi, an elderly, unassuming violin-maker in the quiet Italian city of Cremona? For his friend and fellow violin-maker Gianni Castiglione, the murder is as mysterious as it is shocking. Rainaldi had few possessions, no enemies and little money. No one - least of all the police - can fathom a motive for murdering him. All he really had was ...more
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published February 21st 2006 by Minotaur Books (first published October 21st 2004)
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First Sentence: You expect the momentous moments in your life to provide some kind of warning.

Luther (violin-maker) Giovanni "Gianni" Castiglioni and policeman, Guastafeste, never expect one of their monthly informal string quartet gatherings to turn into a hunt for a murderer. Yet Guastafeste and Gianni find their friend Rainaldi murdered in this studio. His widow tells them he was searching for The Messiah's Sister, the twin to a perfect, unplayed, priceless violin made by
Colin Birge
Apr 27, 2010 rated it liked it
For me, this is one of the rare instances where the sequel was better than the original. The Rainaldi Quartet is the first book in a mystery series by Paul Adam, designed around the world of classical music and historic violins. Yes, obligatory murders happen, but the real interest of the book is the search for a historically important, perfectly made violin from the late 1700s.

I'd already read the book's sequel, Paganini's Ghost, and I find I prefer the sequel to the original. The Rainaldi Quar
Jul 23, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The story begins as four men in Italy meet as they have many times before to play music as a string quartet. One is a priest, 2 make violins and one is a detective. When one of the violin makers is murdered in his shop, the detective (Antonio) seeks the aid of the other violin maker (Gianni) to help determine if anything has been stolen from his shop. They discover that the murdered man had been in search of an undiscovered Stradavarius called the "Messiah's Sister". We follow along as they inve ...more
Mar 27, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mysteries
This is a nice book. But not a good one.

I think what irritated me is that the Italian characters didn't ring true. They didn't act Italian if that makes sense. My husband is Italian and I lived in Northern Italy for several years and the dialogue and character attitudes did not ring true. Also, the way the story ended, all neat and pat was a. not something you'd find in an Italian mystery and again, too neat and pat for my taste.

The ending was too quick and too expected. If you like really sweet
Jan 10, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, mystery, music
The Rainaldi Quartet begins with the murder of an elderly violin-maker and progresses throughout Europe as the violin-maker’s friends attempt to discover who did the deed and why. It also revolves around a valuable Stradivarius that has been missing for many years.

This is a very quick read, but fun to the end. I would recommend this for people who are interested in instruments or mysteries, and especially for those who are fascinated by both.
Aug 10, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: featured, this-year
For this genre (murder mysteries), as good as it gets. This is the 1st of the 2 novels featuring luthier Gianni Castiglione and his policeman friend Antonio Guastafeste, in Cremona Italy. I had serendipitously come across the second book, Paganini's Ghost, read it, and loved it. Of course I had to find a copy of this and read it as well. Here, Castiglione's friend Tomaso Rainaldi is murdered as he apparently nears the end of a quest to find "Messiah's Sister," the mythical violin crafted by the ...more
Jo Trelfa
Sep 18, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not bad, not read any from this author before.
Jeannie and Louis Rigod
The reader is introduced to a pleasant man in his early 60's. This man is Gianni Castiglione, a luthier (violin maker,) living in Cremona, Italy. He is a widow that loves his work and once a week, joining with three others to play quartets of the classics, such as Brahms etc.

Joining him is a Priest, a Policeman, and another Luthier, Tomaso. After an enjoyable evening, the policeman, Guastafeste and Gianni share a glass of whiskey and chat. The telephone is the wife of fellow luthier,
The first of two books featuring luthier Gianni Castiglione and Detective Antonio Guastafeste, The Rainaldi Quartet is part murder mystery, part historical fiction mostly set in modern day Cremona, Italy. The quartet of the title includes Gianni, Antonio, Tomaso Rainaldi and Father Arrighi who gather periodically to play for their own enjoyment. Tomaso, also a luthier, is found dead in his workshop after such a musical gathering. Gianni and Antonio soon join forces to solve the murder of their f ...more
I was introduced to this series courtesy of this year's Malice Domestic conference. Set in quiet Cremona, Italy, the story centers around the murder of an aging luthier, Tomaso Rainaldi, and a mysterious violin known as the "Messiah's Sister" rumored to have been missing for centuries, if it even existed in the first place. Two members of Rainaldi's quartet -- a fellow aging luthier named Gianni Castiglione and a police officer name Antonio Guastafeste -- set out to determine who murdered their ...more
Jul 29, 2013 rated it really liked it
The Rinaldi Quartet by Paul Adam is a book that I suggested for the mystery F2F group that I attend, and they selected it. I was pleased because it sounded unusual. The central character who investigates the case is luthier Gianni Castiligione. Luthiers make stringed instruments.

Although the mystery aspect is about the case of the murdered luthier, Tomasso Rinaldi, it also deals with a quest for a legendary violin.

I really liked the perspective. We get to see into Gianni Castilliogne's mind. W
Jean Hontz
May 22, 2016 rated it really liked it
Admittedly, I have a thing about the forging, stealing, creating, or collecting of works of art. You have only to look at my TBR Challenge to figure this out. ;) This time out, it's all about the violins.

Gianni is a luthier from Cremona. When a close friend of his, another luthier, is killed, he teams up with another close friend, who is the local detective, to find out just why he died and who dunnit.

I confess to knowing essentially nothing, not a damn thing, about violins, well, other than the
Norma Huss
Apr 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Can I give this six stars? This historic mystery is so much more!

Gianni, the older man who tells the story, is part of the Rainaldi Quartet---four men who meet to play stringed instruments of an evening. When one member is killed, Gianni, together with the younger member, the chief of police, follow clues and hopes of clues to England and various places within Italy.

That isn't the whole of the story. There's Gianni's reactions to death, the changing vistas of Venice, and meeting a woman after
May 06, 2009 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Anyone
I guess that when I logged this book I did not have a chance to write anything about it. Good mystery, good writing, full of arcane and detailed information about violins. (Yes, the musical instruments not a physical manifestation of man's inhumanity to man, as Rosanna Rosanna Danna might misconstrue.)

I actually worked with a gent who was a long-removed descendant/relative of the other, if possible, even more exclusive violin maker. One of the thrills of his life was getting the chance to touch
Judi Moore
Aug 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you enjoy classical music, play a violin (or any of its relatives), respect beautiful things made by hand, or love an historical mystery you will enjoy this 'history and mystery'. I learned much about the world's famous old violins while I was being entertained with a beautifully paced quest for one of them.

I know only too well how hard it is to convey music and musical instruments in words (I review regularly for a local music club); Paul Adam does it as well as it can be done. The only way
Dec 30, 2011 rated it liked it
Although I have horrid memories of violin lessons as a child, this novel set in Cremona, Italy caught my attention early. When a sixty-ish violin maker and repair artist, who also plays in a local chamber music group made up of himself, a priest, the local police chief and a fellow luthier, gets involved in unmasking the murderer of an old friend, he stumbles upon the story of a priceless, centuries old violin called "the Messiah's Sister." The police chief depends upon our hero to explain music ...more
Jul 08, 2010 rated it really liked it
I found this to be a thoroughly enjoyable mystery. Adams knows his music history well, and constructing a plot around arcane facts pertaining to the craft of making violins in the 17th and 18th century is ingenious. So why four stars? The author is clearly British, so his use of British slang is understandable (for example, a messy apartment is described as a "tip," and one character says to another, "Have a go..."), but I did not "sense" the character were Italian or that he captured any sense ...more
Aug 11, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The plot revolves around violins and violin music. Near Cremona four friends meet to play in a string quartet: two luthiers, a priest and the youngest, a police office. Rainaldi, one of the luthiers, is murdered and Gianni, the other, helps the policeman in finding the culprit. In looking for clues they discover in Venice a rich collector of valuable violins who is murdered also. We get to know a lot of things about violins and the famous luthiers in Cremona: Stradivari, Amati, and Guarneri. The ...more
Aug 21, 2010 rated it really liked it
Fascinating glimpse into the world of violin making and violin collecting. Wonderfully atmospheric, with intriguing and unusual characters and detailed, evocative descriptions of the various settings. I can't say that I came away with a love of violins, but I begin to understand their appeal to others. In terms of the mystery, it was obvious from the moment he was introduced who the villain in the piece would be. The real mystery was the location -- or even existence -- of the violin. Frankly, I ...more
Mar 30, 2010 rated it really liked it
This is the 2nd book (though the 1st in it's series)that I've read by Paul Adam and totally enjoyed! The main character in this contemporary mystery/thriller is Gianni Castiglione, a luthier in Cremona, Italy (home to some of the best violin makers in history). One of Gianni's fellow informal quartet members is murdered and the reason seems to involve the quest for a priceless violin made by Stradivari. Gianni and his friend, a police detective want answers. I loved the Italian setting and the h ...more
Nov 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I'm hooked on this author! Admittedly, I read the second in the series first, but I liked Paganini's Ghost so much, I wanted to see what the first in the series had to offer. I wasn't disappointed. Adam's protagonist is such a likeable fellow and his descriptions of the Italian countryside are so spot on, I felt as if I was spending a weekend in Tuscany!

Can't wait to try more from this author.
Aug 02, 2011 rated it really liked it
As a young woman, every week I would check out books going straight down the library shelves starting with "A". I've decided to do that again, and this was the first on the mystery shelf. I'm glad I did. The book really piqued my interest in violin making.Two of my criteria for a good read are - 1) was the story interesting and well-written and 2) did it create a curiosity and motivate interest outside the story line. This book worked for me.
Rogue Reader
Jun 28, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery-italy
Splendid mystery expressing true passions for music and a corrupt passion for the violin, objects of making music. Well rounded, fast paced and so exciting, the pages sing. Capable sleuth, remarkable mystery, wonderful Italian setting and such a good read. Felony & Mayhem's edition is a delight to read with clearly readable type, and a paperback size that fits nicely to hand. Kudos to author and publisher!

--Ashland Mystery

Feb 14, 2010 rated it it was amazing
read this one first, then paganini's ghost. they take place in cremona, italy, home of stradivari & guarneri. the protagonist is a local luthier who ends up helping out the police solve murders, which revolve around a strad & a gueneri. lots of history. i had to google earth cremona. it looks lovely. there's lots of music too, which i searched on youtube. it's like i just took a virtual vacation!
Jun 25, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This is, by far, one of the best mystery books I have ever read. If you have an appreciation for fine music, classical music and/or the violin, you will LOVE this book. Mr. Adams' description of a certain violin playing very nearly had me in tears, his description was so beautiful. It is a great, 'where-did-it-go' mystery, full of misdirection and intrigue. If you enjoyed the movie, The Red Violin, you will enjoy this book.
Jim Townsend
Sep 13, 2015 rated it really liked it
The book is tangentally about music, but I wanted to start to read mysteries again, and this was a good one, set in the narrow world of luthiers (violin makers). I found the Italian setting a bit exotic compared to my little part of the planet, Some characters are well developed while the minor characters are one-dimensional (mostly greedy). I recommend this to any mystery lover. Good pacing and detail.
Apr 04, 2010 rated it really liked it
I read this after reading the second in the series. It was wonderful! It fills in the backstory I was missing from the second book; more about the relationship between the luthier and his policeman friend, and how Gianni met his lady friend. Again, much about the history of the violin woven into a wonderful mystery (actually a mystery within a mystery-there is a search for a violin and a search for a murderer at the same time). Very satisfying! I look forward to more of these.
May 15, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: mystery
A competently written mystery with an interesting side angle. The history of violins, particularly those made in the 18th century by the luthiers of Cremona, provides the context for the mystery. A miscellaneous note: Scene changes take place regularly without any chapter break or even any additional spacing on the page, even though the book does have chapters. The effect is jarring. I put this down to the publisher of my edition, Felony & Mayhem, rather than to the author.
Greer Andjanetta
Jan 03, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An aptly named book. Picked up off a library side shelf, unknown (to me) author, this book turned out to be a delightful murder mystery involving luthiers (violin makers) A softly told story with interesting characters. Whenever one can learn something from a book, as is the case here, in addition to enjoying a pleasant read, the experience is doubly worthwhile. This book should certainly be read by anyone who plays the violin.
Chris Leuchtenburg
Mar 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery
As a music lover, I was thoroughly captivated by this intrigue about three hundred year old violins. Although not the fastest moving nor cleverest mystery, I could smell the varnish as he described the painstaking processes of crafting and repairing fine violins. The Italian setting and descriptions of good living added to my pleasure.
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Librarian's Note: There is more than one author with this name on Goodreads database.

Paul Adam has written eleven critically-acclaimed thrillers for adults. His books have sold widely around the world and have been translated into several foreign languages.

He is also the author of the Max Cassidy Series of thrillers for children.

Paul Adam has also written television and film scripts. He lives in
More about Paul Adam...

Other Books in the Series

Castiglione and Guastafeste (2 books)
  • Paganini's Ghost (Castiglione and Guastafeste, #2)