A good detective story taking place in a beautiful part of Italy is a real treat for people who enjoy reading crime mysteries and also happen to love Italy. Use this website to find out more about the locations, the lifestyle and the food and the wine experienced by the characters created by your favourite authors.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

The Jewels of Paradise – crime novel by Donna Leon

Featuring new character Caterina Pellegrini

Donna Leon captures the atmosphere of Venice in this novel, featuring a young musicologist as the main character, just as vividly as she does in her Brunetti series, making it a joy to read for anyone who loves the city.

The musicologist, Caterina Pellegrini, is a native Venetian who has been hired to find the rightful heirs to supposed treasure believed to have been hidden away by a once famous, now almost forgotten, Baroque composer.

Pleased to be back in Venice after working in Manchester, sworn to secrecy and working alone as she looks at papers found in two old trunks that once belonged to the composer, Caterina finds herself uncovering dark secrets from the past.

Her research leads her in the direction of a scandal that happened in the Baroque era that may have involved Agostino Steffani, a real-life 17th century composer.

The Biblioteca Marciana, opposite the Doge's Palace in the Piazzetta, off St Mark's Square in Venice
The Biblioteca Marciana, opposite the Doge's Palace in
the Piazzetta, off St Mark's Square in Venice
Donna Leon’s interest in Baroque opera inspired her to write this story, weaving fact with fiction as she takes an intrigue from the past and makes it the basis for two present-day avaricious Venetians thinking they are the heirs to Steffani’s legendary fortune.

As we read about Caterina doing her research at the Biblioteca Marciana (Marciana Library) in the Piazzetta and going for aperitivi and meals at bars and restaurants known only to the Venetians, we get a glimpse of the life Donna Leon herself enjoys in her beloved Venice.

The Jewels of Paradise is a fascinating mystery, full of historical details, that skilfully engages the reader.

Monday, February 13, 2017

New crime novel set in Sorrento

The Shooting in Sorrento by Val Culley

A new crime novel set against the beautiful backdrop of Sorrento is out now and available on Amazon Kindle or as a paperback. 

A Butler and Bartorelli mystery, The Shooting in Sorrento is the sequel to Death in the High City, which was set in Bergamo in Lombardy.

It will delight readers who know and love Sorrento as a lot of the action in the novel takes place in the ancient streets in the centre of the resort and at locations along the Sorrentine peninsula.

The main protagonist, journalist Kate Butler, is in Sorrento with her partner, Steve Bartorelli, a retired Detective Chief Inspector, to attend the wedding of the daughter of one of Steve’s Italian cousins.

The couple get to know an English family staying at their hotel in Capo di Sorrento and when tragedy strikes the family, Kate feels she should try to help them. She has already become friends with the mother, Janice, who is a woman of about her own age.

The beach of Marina di Puolo just outside Sorrento
Steve is distracted by meeting up with Italian relatives he has not seen since he was a child and is also wary of becoming too involved with the family because two of his cousins are senior officers in the Polizia di Stato.

But Kate is determined to get justice for her new English friends and joins forces with another visitor to Sorrento to investigate, when it seems the Italian police are focusing all their interest on the English family.

Her enquiries cause her to wander the narrow streets that run parallel to Corso Italia and take her down to the beach at Marina di Puolo, but she ends up putting herself in danger when her sleuthing gets her too close to the truth.

The Shooting in Sorrento is believed to be the first British crime novel set in Sorrento. It is available to buy in paperback or as a Kindle edition from Amazon.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Acqua Alta - crime novel by Donna Leon

A Commissario Brunetti novel by Donna Leon

Venice in the autumn when the tides are high

This story featuring Commissario Brunetti made readers all over the world familiar with the Italian term for high tides in Venice.

Against the backdrop of a city under siege from acqua alta, literally high water, Brunetti sets out to investigate the savage attack on Brett Lynch, an American resident he got to know through one of his earlier cases.

The Commissario discovers that the victim, as well as being given a savage beating, had been threatened by her attackers and warned not to keep an appointment she had made with the director of the museum at the Doge’s Palace.

As Brunetti investigates further, he uncovers a web of smuggling, fraud and murder.

Meanwhile the rain continues to fall on an already flooded city, hampering his enquiries and adding to the tension.

One of Donna Leon’s most famous novels, Acqua Alta tells a gripping story and skilfully conveys the atmosphere of Venice in the grip of winter floods.


Tuesday, August 23, 2016

The Snack Thief

An Inspector Montalbano Mystery by Andrea Camilleri

Inspector Montalbano is ridiculed by the media when he commits men and resources to try to catch a young boy who is stealing other school children’s mid morning snacks.

But as usual there is method in his apparent madness. The child’s mother has disappeared and he believes her to be a vital link between two murders.

An elderly man has been found stabbed to death in an elevator and a crewman on an Italian fishing trawler has been machine-gunned by a Tunisian patrol boat off the coast of Sicily.

Only the Inspector, with his unorthodox methods, believes the two deaths are connected.

But as usual his instincts are right and he knows that it is vital he catches the young child before someone else does.

The story is both compelling and amusing and as usual Camilleri makes the smells, colours and landscapes of Sicily come to life.

Buy The Snack Thief by Andrea Camilleri.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

At the Lake of Sudden Death

An Achille Peroni mystery by Timothy Holme


Commissario Achille Peroni is captivated by a red-haired English girl who takes him sailing while he is on holiday at a resort on Lake Garda.

When her dead body is found floating in the lake it is assumed by the local police that she had an accident while out in her boat.

The old harbour at Desenzano del Garda - at the end
of the lake where the action in the book takes place
But Peroni, who by now has become emotionally involved with the dead girl, remembers how well she handled her boat when she took him out and refuses to be convinced.

He starts his own unofficial inquiries and finds himself retracing the English girl’s steps. She had been trying to find the hiding place in the lake of Mussolini’s legendary gold.

The Rudolf Valentino of the Italian police puts himself at risk by meeting up with the families of old Fascist supporters of Mussolini and allowing himself to be taken below the waters of the lake by under water explorers in attempts to find out the truth.

It is a well-written, gripping novel and has a twist in the tail.

Sadly, it was to be the fifth and final Peroni case from the masterly pen of Timothy Holme.

Buy At the Lake of Sudden Death by Timothy Holme.


Friday, October 2, 2015

Dead Lagoon

An Aurelio Zen mystery by Michael Dibdin

Returning to his native Venice to work on a case proves to be an emotional experience for Zen.

He moves into his old family home, which has been left empty for years, but finds it disturbing to meet up with former friends and neighbours and confront his past. The cold weather and the bleakness of the old house echo his mood. 

The lagoon in the winter

He is haunted by memories of his father, who disappeared while fighting in Russia during the war, but is still remembered and spoken about by an old man living nearby.

Zen is unofficially working on the disappearance of a rich American who had taken up residence in Venice, but to provide himself with a cover story and a plausible reason for being there, he takes it upon himself to look into complaints made by an elderly Venetian aristocrat that her palazzo is continually being broken into by people trying to frighten her.

He finds romance with the attractive daughter of one of his mother’s old friends, which helps to make his life more bearable as he goes about his business in a city whose every canal, alleyway and bridge he can remember intimately, despite having been away for so long.

While telling the story, Dibdin takes the reader on a very special tour of Venice, demonstrating his own deep knowledge and appreciation of the city.

As usual Zen has to put himself at risk and work outside the law and without the help of the police service to try to bring the true criminals and wrongdoers to justice at the end of a story that is both well told and gripping.

Buy Dead Lagoon by Michael Dibdin from Amazon.


Monday, August 17, 2015

The Gondola Scam

A Lovejoy narrative by Jonathan Gash


Antiques dealer Lovejoy travels to Venice in this novel in a bid to find out who committed a robbery that resulted in the deaths of two of his colleagues.

Renowned as a divvie, someone with unerring instincts who can tell the difference between a fake and a genuine antique, Lovejoy has been asked to work for a rich man trying to bring some of the priceless works of art out of the city.

But preferring to pursue his own lines of enquiry he travels independently to La Serenissima, the most serene republic, and attaches himself to a tour group.

He meets, and is distracted by, a succession of attractive women and he enjoys playing the tourist, appreciating the beauty that is everywhere in Venice.

He ends up being employed as a forger so that he can find out more about the criminal activities of the ruthless people involved in the scam, putting himself in danger.

It is a very readable book with a mystery at its heart that keeps you turning the pages.
Jonathan Gash also reveals a deep knowledge of and love for Venice, which he describes very well.

The Gondola Scam is a good book for anyone interested in works of art and Venice, written with humour, featuring believable characters, and set in the world of antiques dealing.

Buy the Gondola Scam from Amazon.