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.

Monday, November 3, 2014

The Devil and the Dolce Vita

An Achille Peroni mystery by Timothy Holme


Commissario Achille Peroni is asked to look into the reported disappearance of a young café singer from the seaside resort of Jesolo in this third novel in the series.

His interest in the case intensifies after seeing her photograph and finding himself bewitched by her dark, mysterious eyes.
But the Commissario, who has been dubbed by the media as the Rudolf Valentino of the Italian police, finds himself drawn into a web of decadence and devil worship involving the super rich of Venice while he tries to make his enquiries about the missing girl.
His inner Neapolitan gutter kid is tempted by the dolce vita being offered to him but the heroic Commissario part of him triumphs.
He desperately wants to prove that the beautiful young singer is still alive and so he continues investigating, putting his own life in danger.
Timothy Holme again manages to combine humour with drama while telling this gripping and entertaining Peroni story.

Buy The Devil and The Dolce Vita (Sphere), by Timothy Holme.

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Monday, October 20, 2014

A Florentine Death

The first Michele Ferrara mystery by Michele Giuttari


This novel will fascinate any readers who might wish to learn about the methods or see into the minds of the Italian police.
The hero, Chief Superintendent Michele Ferrara, is the head of the Squadra Mobile in Florence.
He is the creation of a former police chief, Michele Giuttari, who headed the police in Florence between 1995 and 2003 and can therefore write with authority about murder investigations, interviewing suspects and organising armed police operations.
As well as providing an authentic account of police procedure in a multiple murder investigation, Giuttari delivers a cleverly plotted mystery that becomes increasingly more gripping as it reaches its dramatic conclusion.
Anyone who loves Florence will enjoy the setting and perhaps appreciate Giuttari’s portrayal of the beauty and the occasional darkness of everyday life in the city.

Buy A Florentine Death (Abacus) by Michele Giuttari.

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Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Death in a Strange Country

A Commissario Brunetti mystery by Donna Leon
 

Brunetti investigates the death of a young American soldier whose body has been found floating in a Venetian canal in this second book of the series.
His enquiries take him out to the American military base near Vicenza where he is intrigued by the conversations he has with the young man’s commanding officer, an attractive female doctor who, he feels, is hiding something.
At the same time, Brunetti becomes involved in enquiries following the theft of valuable paintings from a palazzo on the Grand Canal owned by a wealthy businessman from Milan.
His superior officer, Vice-Questore Patta, wants to explain away the death of the American soldier as a robbery gone wrong and treat the burglary at the palazzo at face value.
But Brunetti is not satisfied with these convenient explanations. He demonstrates his passion for uncovering the truth and striving to achieve justice for the victims of crime by pursuing the investigations in his own time and at considerable risk to himself.
We learn more about the aristocratic background of his wife, Paola, an opinionated university lecturer, and the powerful connections of his father-in-law, Count Orazio Falier, in this novel. We also see the respect and trust Brunetti inspires in his fellow police officers and even in the relatives of criminals.
Brunetti bravely sticks to his task, despite the corruption at the highest level going on behind the scenes, until he finally learns the truth about the American’s death and the burglary at the palazzo.

Buy Death In A Strange Country (Arrow Books), by Donna Leon.

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Thursday, September 4, 2014

Death of a Dutchman

A Marshal Guarnaccia mystery



In the heat of the summer in Florence, the Marshal embarks on a single-handed mission to bring a person to justice for murder.
He had been called out to investigate after an old lady heard suspicious noises coming from a neighbouring apartment and after gaining entrance he had discovered a dying man.
The victim was a young Dutch jeweller who occasionally used the apartment when he visited Florence on business. Although the officers called in to investigate the death come to the conclusion that he has committed suicide, the Marshal has misgivings.
He makes a few unofficial enquiries of his own and eventually has a suspect in his sights. Unable to intervene officially, and conscious that the murderer will get away with it if he doesn’t do anything, the Marshal embarks on an exhausting pursuit of his quarry throughout the city, hoping to uncover the proof that he needs.
It is an intriguing and absorbing story revealing Magdalen Nabb’s detailed knowledge of Florence. It should come as no surprise that the novelist Georges Simenon referred to Death of a Dutchman as ‘a masterpiece’. 

Buy Death Of A Dutchman (Arrow Books) by Magdalen Nabb.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Death in August

The first Inspector Bordelli mystery by Marco Vichi


Florence during the summer of 1963 is the setting for this evocative story featuring the weary, disillusioned and constantly nostalgic, Inspector Bordelli.
The Commissario is one of the few policemen left working in the heat of the city, which has been deserted by the residents in favour of the more refreshing atmosphere at the coast or in the hills.
Bordelli has to lead an inquiry into the death of a wealthy woman living in a hilltop villa and is helped by a young Sardinian officer who turns out to be the son of one of his former wartime comrades. 
They soon realise that the lady was murdered and start to suspect members of her family were involved.
But proving what actually happened isn’t easy and Bordelli’s frustration is made worse by the heat, the mosquitoes, his constant and vivid memories of combat with the Germans and his hankering for the cigarettes he knows are so bad for him.
Things are made more bearable for him by his kind and loyal friends. Many of them are former criminals and prostitutes and one of them is a brilliant and inventive cook.
Summer in Italy in the 1960s is brought alive by this entertaining novel by Marco Vichi, originally published in Italian as Il Commissario Bordelli and then translated into English by Stephen Sartarelli.

Buy Death in August by Marco Vichi (Hodder and Stoughton).

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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

A Funeral of Gondolas


An Achille Peroni story by Timothy Holme


Peroni has been posted to Venice and is living alone in an apartment bemoaning the lack of serious crime in la Serenissima at the beginning of this book.
But it is not long before the handsome Naples-born Commissario, who has been dubbed the Rudolf Valentino of the Italian police force by the media, finds himself investigating the murder of a lawyer and becoming attracted to a girl from an ancient and noble Venetian family.
Timothy Holme’s entertaining writing style carries the reader along the narrow calle and canals of Venice with Peroni, as he tries to solve an intriguing puzzle involving gondolieri preparing for the annual Regatta and the theft of a priceless manuscript by Venetian playwright Carlo Goldoni.
Peroni’s bravery and intuitive detective skills finally help him to arrive at the truth and lead him out to a dramatic denouement on an island in the lagoon.
A Funeral of Gondolas is a gripping story told by the writer with skill and plenty of humour.

Buy A Funeral of Gondolas (Felony and Mayhem) by Timothy Holme.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Vendetta


An Aurelio Zen mystery by Michael Dibdin
 


Zen is sent from Rome to investigate a case in Sardinia in this second novel of the series.
It is not the picture postcard Sardinia popular with tourists that awaits him but an inhospitable, desolate, deprived landscape where there is no one to help him when his own life is at risk.
Zen has been sent to look into the violent killings of a rich businessman and his house guests staying in a remote villa on the island.
As well as the suspects in the case and the unfriendly locals, he also has to contend with his enemies within Criminalpol, sinister figures from the murky world of politics, criminals from his past cases and the jealous husband of a woman he has become involved with.
We learn more about the character of the detective from Venice, whom Dibdin describes as having prominent bones in his face and a slight tautness of the skin, especially around the eyes, which gives him a slightly exotic air probably due to Slav or Semitic blood in his family’s past.
This is the face that has made Zen’s reputation as an interrogator. ‘Where other policemen confronted criminals, using the carrot or the stick, according to the situation, Zen’s subjects found themselves shut up with a man who barely seemed to exist, yet who mirrored back to them the innermost secrets of their hearts. They read their every fleeting emotion accurately imaged on those scrupulously blank features, and knew that they were lost.’
Zen needs all his intuition, resourcefulness and courage to help him solve this case and get back from Sardinia alive.

Buy Vendetta (Faber & Faber) by Michael Dibdin.

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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The Terracotta Dog

An Inspector Montalbano mystery by Andrea Camilleri



Montalbano suffers a serious gunshot wound after arresting a mafia boss and discovering a cache of weapons in this second novel in the series.
He is officially off duty injured for part of the story, which enables him to indulge his curiosity and investigate a crime committed more than 50 years before involving the murder of two young lovers, whose bodies he discovers being guarded by a terracotta dog in a hidden cave.
Montalbano's character is further developed by the author and we see how his intuition and passion help him arrive at the truth in this case. We also see him empathise with older Sicilian people, whose memories he relies on to help him solve the crime. 
The detective enjoys plenty of Sicilian speciality dishes during the novel, which the reader gets to savour second hand. The novel also provides an engaging  take on Sicilian small-town life, while telling a story that is both entertaining and gripping. 

Buy The Terracotta Dog (Picador) by Andrea Camilleri. 

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Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Death of an Englishman

The first Marshal Guarnaccia novel by Magdalen Nabb


Florence in the run up to Christmas is skilfully presented to us by Magdalen Nabb as the setting for this novel. 
She doesn't just portray the famous city crammed full of art treasures that is so popular with  tourists, but instead gives an insider's view of what it is like to live in an apartment in one of the big old palaces, either as an ex-pat Brit or a working Italian.
She lets us see the city from an interesting variety of viewpoints.There is the Carabinieri officer, Marshall Guarnaccia, a Sicilian who is homesick for his island and misses his wife and family. We also see Florence through the eyes of two English detectives who have arrived to work alongside the Carabinieri on the investigation and we get an insight into the thoughts of the new recruit, the Florentine officer, Carabiniere Bacci.
The novel starts with the discovery of the body of an elderly Englishman in his ground floor apartment. Despite the circumstances in which he seems to have been living, he turns out to be well-connected and from an upper class background.
The Marshall is ill in bed with the flu and his junior officer, Bacci, has to work under his direction while also acting as an interpreter for the Carabinieri captain with the English detectives.  But it is the Sicilian marshall who shows the deepest understanding of the personalities involved and uncovers the shocking truth.

Buy Death of an Englishman (Soho Crime) by Magdalen Nabb

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Saturday, July 12, 2014

Death at La Fenice


The first Commissario Guido Brunetti story by Donna Leon


Donna Leon chose Venice’s world famous opera house, La Fenice, to be the main location for her first novel featuring Commissario Guido Brunetti.
The theatre was named La Fenice, the Phoenix, when it was built in the 1790s, to reflect its role in permitting an opera company to rise from the ashes after its previous theatre burnt down and it had become embroiled in a legal dispute.
But disaster struck in 1836 when La Fenice itself was destroyed by fire. However, it was quickly rebuilt and opened its doors again in 1837.
Approximately four years after Donna Leon’s first novel was published, La Fenice burnt down again in 1996, making the theatre front page news all over the world. It was rebuilt in the same style at a cost of more than 90 million euros and reopened seven years later.
A lot of Donna Leon’s first Brunetti novel takes place within the walls of the beautiful 19th century theatre that she would have visited during her early years in Venice .
The book centres on the horrific poisoning of a world famous conductor during a performance of La Traviata. It is a cleverly constructed plot and the novel shows Brunetti’s character developing, as he attempts to bring about justice for everyone involved.

Buy Death At La Fenice by Donna Leon (Arrow)

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Saturday, June 21, 2014

The Neapolitan Streak

The first Achille Peroni story by Timothy Holme

Considering that this novel set in Verona deals with kidnapping, violent death and the Red Brigade, it is remarkably good fun to read.
Timothy Holme presents his detective, the Neapolitan Commissario Achille Peroni, in a light-hearted way, but we soon see how his archetypal southern characteristics help him get to the truth in the case he has been given.
We quickly learn that Peroni is handsome and has been dubbed by the media as the Rudolf Valentino of the Italian police. He drives a red Alfa Romeo and definitely has an eye for the ladies, but he is also a fervent believer in the powers of San Gennaro, the patron saint of Naples, a city which he misses terribly.
There are times when the Commissario has to fight the Neapolitan within himself to get Peroni to make the right choices. He is not really a brave character but sometimes feels he has to stick his head above the parapet in order to live up to his media reputation.
He enjoys the support and Neapolitan cooking of his sister Assunta, who along with her husband and two children often gives him valuable insights to help him uncover the truth.
Timothy Holme’s first book featuring Commissario Peroni is as entertaining as it is intriguing.

Buy The Neopolitan Streak, by Timothy Holme (Felony and Mayhem)

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Monday, June 16, 2014

Ratking


The first Aurelio Zen novel by Michael Dibdin



Police Commissioner Aurelio Zen is a Venetian living and working in Rome and he constantly feels like an outsider.
But the problem for Michael Dibdin’s fictional detective is not just being away from the city of his birth but because he has been shunted into an administrative role as a result of something that has happened in his past.
In Ratking, the first of Dibdin’s novels to feature Zen, the Commissioner is brought out of the shadows and sent to Perugia to investigate the kidnapping of a rich businessman. Political pressure has been brought to bear on the Polizia dello Stato to achieve some progress in the case and they are forced to put Zen back into active service because there is literally no one else to send.
Dibdin cleverly reveals the character of his detective as the reader sees the techniques he employs to learn about the complex personalities of the family of the kidnapped businessman.
Kidnapping cases were Zen’s speciality and he proves more than a match for the various people who try to thwart him in his work.
We also learn more about the secret in his past which has caused him to be sidelined by his superiors.
Zen finds Perugia, the main city of Umbria, to be a strange and dangerous place, but he sticks to his task of uncovering the truth and allowing justice to prevail. By the end of the book we find out why his career was abruptly halted. But it comes as no surprise to find that he was blameless in the affair because he has already earned our respect and we find ourselves looking forward to seeing him in action again.

Buy Ratking by Michael Dibdin (Faber & Faber)

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Monday, May 12, 2014

The Shape of Water

The first Inspector Montalbano mystery by Andrea Camilleri



The Shape of Water introduces us to the squalor and chaos of Camilleri’s Sicily but also shows us its beauty and reveals the author’s love of the island.
The book starts, aptly enough, with the discovery of a body in a car by two garbage collectors.
Inspector Montalbano’s frustration with the legal and political system in Sicily, the every-day acceptance of corruption and the ongoing problems with the mafia are all vividly set out in the first few pages by Camilleri’s graphic prose, translated into English by Stephen Sartarelli.
Although the novel begins with a description of litter collecting by impoverished, unemployed, university graduates we are quickly transported to Montalbano’s house, which looks out over the sea and the San Calogero trattoria where he enjoys perfectly cooked dishes featuring locally-caught fish.
We learn about the Inspector’s complicated relationship with his girlfriend Livia, who lives in Genova, and his passion for literature and good food. We also find that despite Montalbano’s tough exterior he possesses a determination to get to the truth and a propensity to dispense his own type of justice, showing compassion and respect for vulnerable and honest people but no mercy at all for those who are greedy and immoral.
In this first Inspector Montalbano mystery Andrei Camilleri serves up humour, local colour and an intriguing puzzle, spiced up with plenty of Sicilian cooking, which of course only leaves us wanting more.

Buy The Shape of Water by Andrea Camilleri (Picador).

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