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Fans of Stuckart's impressive debut, The Queen's Gambit(2008), may wish Leonardo da Vinci, the ultimate Renaissance man, was on stage more often in this sequel. As readers of the previous book know, the artist's apprentice, Dino, who serves as narrator, is secretly a woman, Delfina. When Bellanca, a servant to the duke of Milan's ward, Contessa Caterina, falls to her death from a tower, Leonardo's investigation into what proves to be a murder case requires that Delfina pose as a female servant herself. Bellanca's death is soon followed by that of another member of Contessa Caterina's retinue. Already hard-pressed to maintain the deception, Delfina finds her undercover role complicated by a somewhat predictable romantic entanglement with a handsome soldier. Da Vinci emerges at the end to solve the crimes in an action-packed sequence more reminiscent of Magnum than Columbo. As in The Queen's Gambit, Stuckart convincingly captures the flavor of 15th-century Italy. (Jan.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.