The Rainaldi Quartet

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February 24, 2006 at 05:00 AM EST

In Paul Adam’s elegant mystery, The Rainaldi Quartet, Italian violin maker Tomaso Rainaldi is chiseled to death because he knows something about the long-missing ”Messiah’s Sister,” a ”perfect, unplayed, priceless” creation of the famed violin maker Antonio Stradivari. Members of his string quartet — Father Arrighi, the parish priest; Antonio Guastafeste, a police detective; and fellow violin maker Gianni Castiglione — fan out across Italy and England in the hunt for his killer, a search that is as haunting and beautiful as any classically composed requiem. The denouement may come as no surprise, but getting there is a rare treat.

The Rainaldi Quartet

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The Rainaldi Quartet

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