The Measure of a Man: A Novel of Leonardo Da Vinci

Marco Malvaldi (Author) Howard Curtis (Translator)


October 1493. Florence is still mourning the death of Lorenzo the Magnificent. Columbus' ships have only recently reached the New World. The modern financial system has just come into being thanks to the adaption of the letter of credit. Meanwhile, Milan is experiencing a renaissance under the leadership of Ludovico il Moro.

Those wandering in the courtyards of Milan's Castle or along the Navigli canals often encounter a strange man in his forties, dressed long pink robes, his expression calm, like someone who is lost in his own thoughts. The man lives above his workshop, with his mother and a mischievous little boy whom he dotes on; he doesn't eat meat, writes from right to left, and struggles to get paid by his employers. His name is Leonardo da Vinci. His fame extends beyond the Alps, to the French court of Charles VIII, whose envoys have been tasked with a secret mission that concerns Leonardo himself. It is rumored that the Italian inventor keeps his most daring designs--including perhaps the project for an invincible mechanical knight--in a notebook hidden under his robes, close to the heart.

When a man is found dead in the Castle's courtyard, il Moro turns to Da Vinci for help. Though the corpse shows no signs of violence, the death is highly suspicious: rumors of a plague or superstitious explanations need to be disproven quickly. Leonardo is in no position to refuse his master's request to investigate.

Five hundred years after Leonardo's death, Marco Malvaldi combines literature, science, history, and crime to bring back to life one of the greatest figures of the Renaissance.

Product Details

$23.95  $22.03
Europa Editions
Publish Date
October 15, 2019
5.4 X 1.1 X 8.3 inches | 1.05 pounds
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About the Author

Marco Malvaldi was born and lives in Pisa, where he obtained a PhD in Chemistry from the "Normale" University. His previous books include the Bar Lume series, featuring Massimo the Barman and the four elderly sleuths. He is the winner of both the Isola d'Elba Award and the Castiglioncello Prize for his crime novels.

For Europa Editions, Howard Curtis has translated five novels by Jean-Claude Izzo, including all three books in his Marseilles trilogy, as well as fiction by Francisco Coloane, Canek Sánchez Guevara, Caryl Férey, and two previous books by Santiago Gamboa.

Katherine Gregor translates from Italian, Russian and French. She is also a playwright and a fiction writer and maintains a regular blog at


Praise for The Measure of a Man

"Malvaldi's grasp of the historical epic is impressive, but he also manages to bring these towering figures to life in unexpected ways." --CrimeReads

"Imaginative." --Historical Novel Society

"Malvaldi's wry sense of humour and keen eye are a delight to read." --NB Magazine

"If I were to choose an adjective to describe Marco Malvaldi's narrative voice, it would be 'mischievous'."--European Literature Network

"A perfect combination of historical novel and mystery."--Sul Romanzo

"A mystery novel unlike any other."--Corriere della Sera

"Malvaldi describes Leonardo's curiosity, attentiveness, and desire to know everything. But the book also explores the protagonist's more human side: his idiosyncrasies and distractedness; his love for eccentric clothes and gossip. The result is a rich and extremely enjoyable portrait of a figure who has been too often confined to the role of genius and artist." --L'Unione Sarda