Very Private Gentleman

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Overview

The locals in the southern Italian town where he lives call him Signor Farfalla - Mr. Butterfly - for he is a discreet gentleman who paints rare butterflies. His life is inconspicuous - mornings spent brushing at a canvas, afternoons idling in the cafes, and evenings talking with his friend the town priest over a glass of brandy.

Yet there's more to this gentleman's life: Clara, the young student who moonlights in the town bordello, and another...

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Audio Cassette Good Spoken Word Cassette. Eight cassettes 12 hours. Soundings Ltd. October 1995. Ex library Audio Book with usual stamps and markings. Case and cassettes good. ... Will despatch immediately. 8059. *****PLEASE NOTE: This item is shipping from an authorized seller in Europe. In the event that a return is necessary, you will be able to return your item within the US. To learn more about our European sellers and policies see the BookQuest FAQ section***** Read more Show Less

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A Very Private Gentleman: A Novel

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Overview

The locals in the southern Italian town where he lives call him Signor Farfalla - Mr. Butterfly - for he is a discreet gentleman who paints rare butterflies. His life is inconspicuous - mornings spent brushing at a canvas, afternoons idling in the cafes, and evenings talking with his friend the town priest over a glass of brandy.

Yet there's more to this gentleman's life: Clara, the young student who moonlights in the town bordello, and another woman who arrives with $100,000 and a commission, but not for a painting of butterflies.

With this assignment returns the dark fear that has dogged Signor Farfalla. Almost instantly, he senses a deadly circle closing in on him, one that he may or may not elude. Part thriller, part character study, part drama of deceit and self-betrayal, A Very Private Gentleman shows Martin Booth at the very height of his powers.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Booth's brilliantly creepy psychological suspense novel follows a so-called "shadow-dweller" (a technical weapons expert who creates and supplies the tools for high-level assassins) to a rural village in southern Italy where he poses as "Signor Farfalla," a quiet artist who paints miniatures of butterflies and has traveled to the area to capture a unique native specimen. As the artist, whose real name is Clark, settles into the local scene, most of his new acquaintances accept his enigmatic alias, with the notable exception of Father Benedetto, the priest who pushes him to reveal himself in a series of confessional conversations over glasses of Armagnac. Between painting the minutely detailed butterfly studies and preparing for his next job, Clark carouses with a pair of local prostitutes, Dindina and Clara, eventually slipping into a serious affair with the latter. As he gets weapons specs and begins constructing a new gun, he learns that his latest customer is a woman whose next target may be Yasser Arafat. Suddenly he senses another "shadow-dweller" on his trail; this anonymous figure remains a mystery to Clark until their climactic showdown. The lazy, languid setting is an eerily effective backdrop for the fresh and beguiling murder intrigue, and the flashbacks into Clark's cold, brutal past are cleverly juxtaposed against his budding romance with young, na ve Clara. With first-rate characters and a gradual buildup of suspense, Booth constructs his most focused, tightly written novel to date, reminiscent of William Trevor's classic Felicia's Journey and the late Patricia Highsmith's Ripley novels. (Jan.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
"Burn a body slowly and it chars then melts like rubber. I have seen it." Judging by that phrase, typical of the writing throughout, Clint Eastwood should option Booth's latest ASAP. Booth (Jungle Lore) sets his novel in rural Italy, where an aging, nameless "underworld" traveler known locally as insect painter Signor Farfalla ("butterfly") contracts for his last job. At first we think him a hit man, but he is in fact a "shadow-dweller," an artisan who creates and supplies the tools for assassins. Well read, appreciative of wines and cheeses, and an ethicist in his own way, Signor Farfalla comes to love his sun-dappled ancient village, his conversations with the priest, and his paramour, Clara, and dreams of retiring. True, he has spent his life watchful of those in his fraternity out to do him harm, but he dreams nevertheless. Suspense builds artfully in this classy novel, and the prose is measured carefully. Even the use of first-person narration doesn't diminish the sense of uncertainty. For any library collecting literary suspense.-Robert E. Brown, Minoa Lib., NY Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A thoughtful armorer to the world's finest assassins ponders the possibilities of Italian retirement. His rather specialized occupation has made it necessary for Edmund "Mr. Butterfly" (the name given him by the locals-if you knew his last name . . . ) to move about often, but perhaps it's time to hang up the tools. He has enough money. He has the respect of his industry. He has a lovely apartment overlooking a totally agreeable town somewhere in the Italian mountains, convenient to the autostrada and to Rome, but utterly private. He has the love of a very sweet young whore working her way through college and access to another when he's feeling extra companionable. The local priest is not only intelligent and perceptive, but he smokes his own prosciutto (against the law, but this is Italy). And he has a satisfying assignment to close out his working days. The fly in the ointment is the man in the shadow, a stranger stalking Edmund as he makes his way around the village and even in the countryside where he goes to check the working of his last custom sniper rifle. Edmund is not himself a professional killer. He simply makes it possible for the pros to do their best. But he has not survived this long without a few pragmatic solutions. And it would be most regrettable if the stalker of the moment should force a confrontation here in this most pleasant potential retirement spot. Do we believe any of this? Hard to say. Booth (Islands of Silence, 2003, etc.) has no trouble creating the beautifully detailed thoughts of this cool customer, but it may be difficult for some readers to believe the combination of intellect and industrial skills. Others may find the sweethearted working girl a bit ofa stretch. The scenery, however, is always exquisite. Bitter, but possibly good for you. Like those Italian digestive liquori.
From the Publisher
"Haunting, shocking, and tense, Booth's story is a charismatic blend of psychological thriller, vivid drama, shocking morality tale, and profound psychological study. His writing is crisp yet lyrical, simple yet intelligent. Readers looking for thought-provoking literary fiction can't do any better than this."

- Booklist (starred review)

"Booth constructs his most focused, tightly written novel to date, reminiscent of William Trevor's classic Felicia's Journey and the late Patricia Highsmith's Ripley novels."

- Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"Beautifully detailed...exquisite." - Kirkus

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781860420771
  • Publisher: Ulverscroft Large Print Books, Ltd.
  • Publication date: 10/1/1995
  • Format: Cassette

Meet the Author

Martin Booth is a critically acclaimed novelist and a documentary and feature film writer. He has written thirteen novels including Islands of Silence, Hiroshima Joe, and The Industry of Souls. His most recent non-fiction books include Opium: A History and The Doctor, the Detective and Arthur Conan Doyle — a biography of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 7 )
Rating Distribution

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(3)

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Sort by: Showing all of 8 Customer Reviews
  • Posted September 17, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    A VERY PRIVATE MAN...

    "A Very Private Gentleman" is about an elderly man who makes weapons for assassins. Having done this for decades and lived all over the Western world, he tires of constantly needing to watch his back for people trying to do him in, such as the CIA and Interpol. He lives in a beautifully described small Italian village in secluded mountains, surrounded by locals who care about him and living the simple pleasures of life. The author does a wonderful job of revealing the inner workings of a man's mind, particularly those who have been exposed to the violent, ugly side of life.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 5, 2005

    Kept me wide awake

    Bravo, Mr.Booth for a highly intelligent and clever novel. If you love Italy you can really appreciate this book........

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted August 11, 2012

    pretty good

    good condition good read

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  • Posted November 23, 2011

    Highly Recommended

    An excellent book that can be read to compliment the recent movie; or enjoyed singularly. The development of the main and supporting characters is masterful and ingenious. Appreciation requires a level of maturity, depth, and an interest in international clandestine affairs.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted November 19, 2010

    A novel, not a thriller

    Good, old-fashioned story telling. If you are expecting an edge-of-the-seat page-turner about the dark world of assassins for hire - this is not it. It is a fascinating character study of a blackmarket gunsmith to the assassins. Booth effectively gets into the mind of his gunsmith and progressively reveals his character and his personal code of behaviour. A very satisfying read - by the end you feel you have gotten to know the anti-hero. Better than the movie, 'The American', although George Clooney is excellent in the lead role.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 25, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted September 6, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted July 2, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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