The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco

We are chin deep into fall with winter knocking at the door.  The days have shortened, the nights have lengthened, and cold winds are starting to blow.  The proper cure for a season of discontent is to grab a good book, an epic story, and relax in the warm comfort of your home.  Pretty much anything by the late, great Umberto Eco will fill the bill, but since I’ve only read one of his massive novels, I’ll recommend it for wintry consumption.

Picture it:  Northern Italy, 1327.  It is the dead of winter when William of Baskerville, a Franciscan friar, and his pupil, Adso, arrive at a Benedictine monastery to prepare it for an important meeting between representatives of Pope John XXII and the Franciscans, whom the church has accused of heresy.

Upon their arrival, William and Adso find the monastery is in a state of upheaval and worry.  A death has occurred.  The victim was Adelmo, an illuminator, who either jumped to his death from a library window or was thrown.  The suicide angle appears less likely when other bodies, blatant victims of foul play, begin to pile up.

William and his sidekick have seven days to unmask a killer who threatens the sanctity of the entirety of Christianity.  The investigation would go a lot smoother if the abbot and the other monks were more cooperative, and if the librarian was willing to divulge the secrets of the library which is kept under lock and key.  Admittance to authorized personnel only, of course.

I read somewhere that longer books sell better during the colder months (January, February, and so on).  The Name of the Rose is perfect for these long, cold, dark nights.  It’s an involving book, a densely written, intricate mystery.  It does require some patience from the reader, at least it did from me.  Even when I set the book down, I couldn’t leave it, I was continually lured back to Eco’s medieval world of intrigue.  It has a fully realized sense of place and time.

Don’t go into The Name of the Rose expecting a run-of-the-mill whodunit.  This is some very deep stuff– as deep as a winter night.