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.