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.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

The Scent of the Night

An Inspector Montalbano Mystery by Andrea Camilleri


A village on the southern coastline of Sicily similar to the fictional location of the Montalbano novels
A village on the southern coastline of Sicily similar to the
fictional location of the Montalbano novels
When an old man holds a secretary at gunpoint in the office of a financial adviser, the police are called to the scene. Inspector Montalbano is drawn into the case when he discovers that the secretary’s boss has vanished along with several billion lire entrusted to him by the good citizens of Vigata.

He later discovers that the financial adviser’s young colleague is also missing and that he is the nephew of a man who is building a house on the site of his favourite olive tree.

The weather doesn’t help the Inspector’s mood, or the pressure of having telephone arguments with his long-distance lover, Livia.

Matters come to a head when Montalbano tastes ‘burning pirciati, a pasta dish, at a restaurant that he has never tried before.

The pirciati ‘smelled like heaven on earth’, but he had to drink a litre of 'dense red wine' in order to be able to consume them.

Afterwards, he sees a notice in the restaurant offering a reward to anyone with information on the financial adviser he is investigating.

When Montalbano discovers the man has cheated the woman who has just cooked his amazing meal out of 30 million lire, he pledges to get revenge for her.

But as he drives home under the influence of a litre of 'dense red wine' he finds his favourite olive tree has been felled so that a modern bungalow can be built on the site. And that’s when Montalbano flies into a complete rage…

The Scent of the Night is both funny and poignant and full of Sicilian flavour, served up in vintage Camilleri style.

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

The Death of a Mafia Don

A Chief Superintendent Michele Ferrara novel by Michele Giuttari

Looking along the Arno towards Ponte Vecchio in Florence, the backdrop for Michele Giuttari's book
Looking along the Arno towards Ponte Vecchio in Florence,
the backdrop for Michele Giuttari's book
When a bomb explodes near Chief Superintendant Ferrara’s car in the centre of Florence, leaving the head of the Squadra Mobile injured, there is an urgent need to find out who was responsible to prevent further atrocities.

Ferrara is unconscious and in hospital so his loyal colleagues have to start the investigation without him.

There are conflicting theories. It could have been the work of Muslim extremists but it could also have been revenge by the Mafia for the imprisonment of their boss, Salvatore Laprua.

Soon after he regains consciousness, Ferrara discharges himself from hospital and goes straight back to his office to lead the inquiry.

It becomes even more personal for him when a second bomb goes off and his colleague and friend, Acting Prosecutor Anna Giulietti, is killed.

To add to the complications, Mafia boss Salvatore Laprua is then found dead in his prison cell.

This is a fast moving novel about potential terrorism and Mafia activity in Italy seen from the perspective of the security forces.

It shows the way the police and the Carabinieri work together and there is a realistic portrait of Florence as the backdrop, described by an author who was himself responsible for jailing several key Mafia figures while heading the Squadra Mobile in both Florence and Reggio Calabria.

The author, Giuttari, has been a special adviser to the interior minister in Rome with the remit  of monitoring Mafia activity.

Sunday, April 7, 2019

A Noble Radiance

A Commissario Brunetti novel by Donna Leon

When workmen discover a badly decomposed body in a macabre grave in the gardens of a deserted farmhouse in the Dolomites, Commissario Guido Brunetti is called in to look into the case.

The victim is conclusively identified as the son of an aristocratic Venetian family who has been missing since his abduction two years previously.
Donna Leon exposes the corruption that lies behind
 the stunning beauty of Venice.

Brunetti goes to the family’s villa to try to find out more about the background of the victim and immediately notices a small detail about the gates that had been overlooked by the officers who had investigated the kidnapping at the time.

In this seventh novel to feature Commissario Guido Brunetti, Donna Leon gives us an intriguing mystery that is set against the backdrop of a glamorous, but corrupt Venice. 

Brunetti has to tread carefully because the important family are still grieving for their abducted son, but he is determined to uncover the truth and give the victim the justice he deserves.

Readers are treated to interesting details about Venice and the culinary delights of the city that are enjoyed by the Brunetti family along the way, by the author, who is a long term resident of the city.

But the grim truth uncovered by Brunetti in the closing pages stops this novel from becoming just another predictable crime story that takes place in a beautiful setting.

Friday, January 4, 2019

A Long Finish

An Aurelio Zen Mystery by Michael Dibdin

Zen is given an assignment he can’t possibly refuse when he is sent to the wine producing town of Alba in Piedmont in northern Italy.

He has been sent to try to get the son of a wine producer released from prison, following orders instigated by an influential and wealthy man in Rome, who is a passionate wine collector.

He can’t turn down the job because it has been made clear to him the alternative would be a posting to Sicily. He would be drafted into the elite squad of officers chosen to spearhead a campaign against the Mafia and this time the Government is planning a fight to the finish against the organisation.

However, all Zen has to do if he goes to Alba is to secure the release from prison of a man accused of murdering his father, in time for him to make this year’s wine.

The UK television adaptations of the Aurelio Zen novels starred the actor Rufus Sewell
The UK television adaptations of the Aurelio Zen
novels starred the actor Rufus Sewell
Some people believe Manlio Vincenzo has been wrongly accused of murdering  Aldo Vincenzo, but he had a row with his father the night before he was killed and the Carabinieri have quickly arrested him.

The Vincenzo Barbaresco DOC is known to be the best in the region and if Manlio Vincenzo is let out in time he will be able to make this year’s vintage, which is predicted could be the wine of the century and would be highly collectable.

It is not long after Zen’s arrival in Alba that Manlio is released anyway and the local Polizia Vice-Questore thinks that will be the end of the assignment for the officer from Rome. But Zen is in no hurry to leave Alba because he is fully aware of what is planned for him next.

Large wine barrels form part of a display in Piazza Duomo, one of the main squares in Alba's historic centre
Large wine barrels form part of a display in Piazza Duomo,
one of the main squares in Alba's historic centre
The subsequent deaths of a local truffle hunter and another less important wine producer provide him with clues and using his unique, investigative skills, Zen ferrets out the old relationships among the locals and the grudges still harboured that lie at the heart of the mystery.

The story, skilfully told by Dibdin, continues even after Zen believes he has arrived at the truth as, like the famous Barbaresco wine, the case has A Long Finish.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Excursion to Tindari

An Inspector Montalbano Mystery by Andrea Camilleri

The TV version of the Montalbano mysteries uses locations such as Pozzalo (above), on the Sicilian coast near Ragusa
The TV version of the Montalbano mysteries uses locations
such as Pozzalo (above), on the Sicilian coast near Ragusa
Inspector Montalbano is called in to investigate when a young man is murdered in front of his apartment building just as he was about to put his key into the lock of the entrance door.

What seems a routine investigation suddenly becomes more interesting when an elderly couple are reported missing by their son and Montalbano discovers they lived in the same apartment building as the murder victim.

Against a backdrop of the complications of life at Vigata police station and the difficulties he encounters in his own personal life, Montalbano uncovers a brutal new version of the Mafia that has sprung up in Sicily.

The elderly couple had travelled by bus on an excursion to a place called Tindari, but were fated never to return from their trip.

Montalbano finds himself being led down a path more evil than any path he has been down before.

But there is no shortage of visits to authentic trattorie where the Inspector finds the seafood particularly good. Once again Camilleri produces the style of writing that brings the smells, colours and landscapes of Sicily to life for the reader.

Buy Excursion to Tindari by Andrea Camilleri.

Monday, November 19, 2018

The Marshal and the Madwoman

A Marshal Guarnaccia Investigation by Magdalen Nabb

Magdalen Nabb's Marshall Guarnaccia novels are set in the city of Florence
Magdalen Nabb's Marshal Guarnaccia novels are set
in the city of Florence
When a crazy, destitute old woman is found dead in her apartment with her head in the gas oven, the Marshal isn’t prepared immediately to accept that she committed suicide.

His instincts tell him that the woman has been murdered and he sets out in the August heat in Florence to investigate her death thoroughly.

But his enquiries only lead to him asking himself: why would anyone want to murder Clementina, a poor old woman who was obsessed with tidying and cleaning the streets of the district of Florence where she lived?

Nothing at all is known about her by the other residents living nearby and so the Marshal has to try to reconstruct her past.

Only when he discovers the terrible event that wrecked her life and led to her madness 25 years earlier during the big flood that engulfed Florence, the story of which is vividly recreated in the novel by Magdalen Nabb, does he discover the identity of her present day murderer.

Marshal Guarnaccia then has to use all his ingenuity and resources to track down the culprit and make sure that they don’t get away with it.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

The Death of Faith

A Commissario Brunetti novel by Donna Leon

Commissario Guido Brunetti offers to make some enquiries about unexpected deaths at a care home in Venice after he is visited at his office by a former nun.
Beguiling Venice, where dark secrets can lurk

Maria Testa, who was known as Suor Immacolata when she used to care for Brunetti's aged mother, believes everything is not what it should be at the home she used to work in.

Having now relinquished her vocation, she is living her life in the outside world again, but remains so troubled by what she has witnessed that she asks for Brunetti's help.

He sets out to make his enquiries having complete faith in Maria's honesty and sincerity, but finds no obvious cause for concern.  

Is Maria simply creating a problem to justify abandoning her vows? Or, has she stumbled on to something deeply-rooted and sinister that will put her own life in danger?

As usual Brunetti finds himself working in an imperfect system and has to use his own skills and ingenuity to  eventually bring the wrongdoers to justice.

This is another tale by Donna Leon where the reader can enjoy her descriptions of the beauty of Venice while simultaneously being shocked by the corruption lying beneath the surface that she reveals.