When the Christian monk William of Baskerville arrives at a thriving Italian abbey with his apprentice, what was supposed to be a mission from the Emperor turns into something more sinister. For William arrives just as the abbey uncovers its first of seven bizarre deaths. Following the abbot’s desperate request, William agrees to become a detective to unearth the killer in their midst. In the backdrop of fraught religious politics of 1327, William must use his full logic to collect evidence, decipher secrets and dig deeper into the labyrinth of the abbey, all the while keeping in mind his most important mission, which has the history of his brotherhood at stake.
Personal Take: This is one of those books I’ve had on my shelf for so long, and only by the recent death of its author that I was spurred to pick it up. And I wish I’d read it sooner.
The Name of the Rose was beautifully written, in the point of view of William’s young apprentice. This works well, as we’re just as innocent and clueless as he is, and we see through his eyes the treachery of the “wise” people around him. His innocence also adds a nice humor throughout the book. His role as a side-kick to William almost gave this book the feel of Sherlock Holmes in the 12th century, except William is more level-headed and grounded.
The amount of research done to bring this book to life was very evident (and no surprise, considering Umberto’s profession). The book’s events are interwoven with real historical encounters that were almost seamless (I didn’t do my own research until after I finished reading). The story is a beautiful and gripping post-modern classic, and in true fashion of all the amazing writers, Umberto leaves nothing to chance.
This book isn’t for everyone– if you’re patient enough to go through the detailed layers of a novel, then this is definitely the book for you– I would definitely recommend it to anyone who wants a taste of a well-crafted murder mystery that takes place in medieval times!
Audience: Older readers. There are some pretty hefty historic explanations in this book, and some sexual references (and some disturbing descriptions).
Other recommendations: Though this is the first Umberto book I’ve read, it’s by no means the last, as he’s written about really interesting topics.