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.

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.

Buy A Noble Radiance by Donna Leon.

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.