A Bolt from the Blue: A Leonardo da Vinci Mystery
by Diane A. S. Stuckart

Berkley Prime Crime, 2010. ISBN 978-0-425-23217-0.
Reviewed by Trilla Pando
Posted on 03/22/2010

Fiction: Mystery; Fiction: Historical

Delfina is quite a girl. She can keep a secret. In fact, she can keep a lot of secrets. Delfina, who loves to paint and draw dreams of becoming an artista just like her Master, Leonardo da Vinci. She is clever, very good at figuring things out and at fooling people.

She has put all of these together; she has persuaded the great Master da Vinci that she is Dino, a boy, and further, that she should become his apprentice. She doesn't have to persuade him of her talent with a brush; he is a master at recognizing that.

This is the third in Diane A. S. Stuckhart's series of the adventures and sleuthing of da Vinci and his protégé. The earlier ones will show up on my reading list soon. The books are carefully researched and Stuckart does a fine job of working in the details fifteenth century Milan and the intricacies of both da Vinci's art and of his mechanical inventions. The war machine is terrifying, and I hope that if I run across a war machine such as that, there will be flying machine on my castle.s battlements, so I will be able to hop on and pedal away safely into blue air.

The story is cleverly, if sometimes predictably, crafted. The adventures (and it is as much of an adventure story as a mystery) are believable, as are the supporting characters. The father is drawn sympathetically. This easy reading book will have a wide appeal. Clearly, lovers of historical fiction will want to make an Italian meal, and then dig right into the book and dinner. Travelers, too, will enjoy the story. I've visited modern Milan, and it was a treat for me to visualize, through Stuckhart's excellent descriptions, the city's ancient buildings thriving in their glory days.

While the book is described as adult fiction, it will certainly have appeal to adventuresome young readers, especially those who love history and art. Any girl reading it will appreciate that, in her life, she doesn't have to pretend to be Dino to have her talents and intelligence appreciated and to have adventures of her own.

Texas-born Diane A. S. Stuckart now lives in South Florida with her husband and dogs. She is a prolific writer and has published romance novels under the names of Alexa Smart and Anna Gerard. When she's not teaching yoga, practicing for her belly dancing class, or writing, she's holding down a day job. Her website is as creative as her novels, having not only her biography and details about her books, but also information about tarot and chess. Her dog Pio even has a paint-by-numbers section! Check it all out here.

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