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.


When in Rome

A Roderick Alleyn mystery


By Ngaio Marsh (1899 – 1982)

A brilliant portrait of Rome during the swinging sixties is painted by Dame Ngaio Marsh in this novel, which was first published in 1970.

The handsome and astute Superintendent Alleyn is in Rome ‘incognito’, trying to gather information about the international drugs trade.

Posing as a tourist, he joins a very select guided tour for the day to visit a church and enjoy a picnic at the Palatine Hill.

The tour organiser, or ‘cicerone’ as he is referred to in the book, mysteriously disappears while escorting the wealthy and aristocratic members of the party inside the Basilica of San Tommaso in Pallaria. Alleyn, working with the Italian Polizia, eventually discovers a body in the Basilica.

Much of the action takes place inside the church, which the author describes in great detail, showing a fine appreciation of place. And, while enjoying the many excellent descriptions of the eternal city, the reader is kept guessing, with twists and turns of the plot right until the end of the book, about the identity of the murderer.

New Zealand-born Ngaio Marsh wrote 32 novels featuring Roderick Alleyn, a gentleman detective who worked for the Metropolitan Police in London. They were published between 1934 and 1982. Dame Ngaio Marsh has been ranked as one of the four Queens of Crime of the 20th century, alongside Agatha Christie, Dorothy L Sayers and Margery Allingham.

When in Rome is currently available in paperback as part of The Ngaio Marsh Collection Book 9 (Harper), alongside Clutch of Constables and Tied Up in Tinsel, and as an eBook.  It is due to be re-released as a paperback in its own right by Felony and Mayhem in September.

(Image by neufal54 from Pixabay)

Buy the Kindle edition of When In Rome from Amazon.

Also available as part of The Ngaio March Collection, Book 9, available from 


The Big Story

By Morris West 

Piazza Sant'Antonino in Sorrento, where the action in Morris West's story takes place
Piazza Sant'Antonino in Sorrento, where the
action in Morris West's story takes place
This book by bestselling Australian novelist and playwright Morris West is not a conventional detective story but the setting is Sorrento in southern Italy and there is a ‘whodunnit’ element to the plot.

Written in 1957, the novel features as its main protagonist an American journalist, Richard Ashley, who has been working on an exposure of graft in Italy's rich and powerful ruling clique that he hopes will make headlines all over the world.

At the centre of the corruption is the rich and powerful Vittorio, Duke of Orgagna and an added complication is that Ashley once had an affair with his wife, Cosima, and deep down he is still in love with her.

The Duke has to prevent Ashley’s story from being published as it would ruin his political ambitions and he arranges for the journalist to be framed for murder.

The mystery for the reader is who actually committed the murder and who will emerge the winner at the end, the journalist or the Duke.

For those who love Sorrento the book - later retitled as The Crooked Road and made into a film starring Stewart Granger - is interesting as it depicts the glamour of the resort 60 years ago when it was popular with the rich and famous.

And all credit to Morris West, the story reaches a tense climax with an unexpected twist at the end.

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