Book review: Portrait of Conspiracy by Da Vinci’s Disciples – Book One by Donna Russo Morin


  • Publication Date: May 10, 2016
  • Diversion Books
  • eBook & Paperback; 290 Pages
  • Genre: Historical Mystery

Book Description:

One murder ignites the powderkeg that threatens to consume the Medici’s Florence. Amidst the chaos, five women and one legendary artist weave together a plot that could bring peace, or get them all killed. Seeking to wrest power from the Medici family in 15th Century Florence, members of the Pazzi family drew their blades in a church and slew Giuliano. But Lorenzo de Medici survives, and seeks revenge on everyone involved, plunging the city into a murderous chaos that takes dozens of lives. Bodies are dragged through the streets, and no one is safe. Five women steal away to a church to ply their craft in secret.

Viviana, Fiammetta, Isabetta, Natasia, and Mattea are painters, not allowed to be public with their skill, but freed from the restrictions in their lives by their art. When a sixth member of their group, Lapaccia, goes missing, and is rumored to have stolen a much sought after painting as she vanished, the women must venture out into the dangerous streets to find their friend and see her safe. They will have help from one of the most renowned painters of their era the peaceful and kind Leonardo Da Vinci. It is under his tutelage that they will flourish as artists, and with his access that they will infiltrate some of the highest, most secretive places in Florence, unraveling one conspiracy as they build another in its place. Historical fiction at its finest, Donna Russo Morin begins a series of Da Vinci s disciples with a novel both vibrant and absorbing, perfect for the readers of Sarah Dunant.

“A riveting page-turner unlike any historical novel you’ve read, weaving passion, adventure, artistic rebirth, and consequences of ambition into the first of a trilogy by a masterful writer at the peak of her craft.” -C. W. Gortner, author of The Confessions of Catherine de’ Medici and The Vatican Princess

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DonnaRussoMorinwebsiteMeet the Author:

Donna Russo Morin is the award winning of author of historical fiction. A graduate of the University of Rhode Island, she lives near the shore with her two sons, Devon and Dylan, her greatest works in progress.

Donna enjoys meeting with book groups in person and via Skype chat.


Visit her website at; friend her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter @DonnaRussoMorin.


Portrait of a Conspiracy is not for the faint of heart or weak of stomach.  The story opens amidst a bloodbath of violence between the Pazzi and the Medici. Thrust into the midst of political upheaval and revenge are six women artists united through their love of art (despite coming from very different backgrounds and social classes) who practice their respective artistic skills with utmost secrecy.

When one of their fellow artists goes missing, they set out on dangerous missions to find her before she is found by those seeking revenge.  A painting mysteriously disappears at the same time and the five remaining women must determine why the painting is so important.  A surprise is the involvement of Leonardo da Vinci as a young man.  He becomes their mentor and confidante and it is interesting to imagine him as a real person apart from his life as a painter.

Although this book is described as historical fiction, I would add “thriller” and “mystery” to describe the book.  The subplots keep you turning the pages until its ultimately satisfying conclusion.

Although not based on historical incidences, it is interesting to imagine how much artwork was actually produced by women during this time period.

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