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.



An Aurelio Zen mystery by Michael Dibdin

Michael Dibdin’s third Zen novel is set in Rome and begins with the death of a man inside the Basilica of Saint Peter during Mass.

A body plummets to the ground from high up in the great dome of the church and ends up on the marble floor in front of all of the worshippers.

Zen is asked to investigate the circumstances by the Vatican to ensure they are seen to be open and fair and are not just accepting the convenient theory that the man was committing suicide.

But getting the answers he needs isn’t easy after one witness after another is silenced before he can talk to them by violent death.

Knowing himself to be under threat, Zen has to penetrate a sinister, secret organisation known as the Cabal in order to save his own skin and put an end to the killings.

Dibdin starts the book in Rome and then Zen travels by train to Milan and you can tell you are in a different city when he gets off the train, that’s how good his settings are.

He puts in details about contemporary life in Rome in that period, including the disruption caused by extending the metro, that make the reader feel they are living through it with Zen.

Towards the end of the book a lot of the action takes place in the Galleria in Milan and his sharp observations about the architecture, shops and restaurants makes you feel you are living in that period in the city.

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Death in the High City first anniversary


Successful year for Bergamo’s first English crime novel

Death in the High City, the first British detective novel to be set in Bergamo, has had an exciting first year.

The novel, which was published in Kindle format on Amazon 12 months ago today, has sold copies in the UK, Italy, America, Australia and Canada . A paperback version of Death in the High City was published in July 2014.

The novel in Piazza Vecchia
Author Val Culley has had some heart warming emails and messages about the book from readers both in the UK and abroad and has been delighted with the level of interest in her first novel.

In October 2014 Val was a guest at the fifth anniversary celebrations of Bergamo Su e Giù a group of independent tour guides in the city. She was invited to present Death in the High City to an audience in San Pellegrino Terme and sign copies of the book and she also made an appearance on Bergamo TV to talk about the novel with presenter Teo Mangione.

In November the book was purchased by Leicestershire Libraries and is now in stock at Loughborough, Shepshed, Ashby de la Zouch, Coalville, Castle Donington and Kegworth Libraries and is going out on loan regularly. In April this year Val was invited to Bergamo again to present her novel to a group of 80 Italian teachers of English and to sign copies. She made a second appearance on Bergamo TV and also formally presented a copy of Death in the High City to the Biblioteca Civica (Civic Library) in Piazza Vecchia, a location that is featured in the novel itself.

Death in the High City centres on the investigation into the death of an English woman who was staying in the Città Alta while writing a biography of the composer Gaetano Donizetti.

The novel is the first of a series to feature the characters of Kate Butler, a freelance journalist, and Steve Bartorelli, a Detective Chief Inspector, who is of partly Italian descent and has just retired from the English police.

Val signing copies of her book in Bergamo
The victim had been living in an apartment in Bergamo’s Città Alta and much of the action takes place within the walls of the upper town. The local police do not believe there is enough evidence to open a murder enquiry and so Kate Butler, who is the victim’s cousin, arrives in Bergamo to try to get some answers about her death.

Kate visits many of the places in the city with Donizetti connections and her enquiries even take her out to Lago d’Iseo and into the countryside around San Pellegrino Terme. But after her own life is threatened and there has been another death in the Città Alta, her lover, Steve Bartorelli, joins her to help unravel the mystery and trap the killer. The reader is able to go along for the ride and enjoy Bergamo ’s wonderful architecture and scenery while savouring the many descriptions in the novel of local food and wine.

The novel will be of interest to anyone who enjoys the ‘cosy’ crime fiction genre or likes detective novels with an Italian setting.

Death in the High City by Val Culley is available from



A Venetian Reckoning

A Commissario Brunetti novel by Donna Leon

In A Venetian Reckoning we discover that Brunetti lives near the church of San Polo
In A Venetian Reckoning we discover that
Brunetti lives near the church of San Polo
Brunetti starts to investigate the murder of a prominent international lawyer on a train and soon finds himself uncovering a frightening network of corruption in Venice and further afield.

His enquiries into the secret lives of some of the top people in his home city lead to repercussions for both himself and his family, but he refuses to allow himself to be deterred from uncovering the truth.

We learn more about his domestic life in this fourth novel of the series and discover that his apartment is in Calle Tiepolo near the church of San Polo. At one point he sends his daughter, Chiara, out to buy some of his favourite Dolcetto wine from a nearby restaurant, Do Mori, demonstrating Donna Leon’s attention to detail, which helps to bring her characters and the city of Venice to life for the reader.

Brunetti discovers that a seedy bar is at the hub of an evil crime network involving the exploitation of women, from which rich, seemingly respectable people, are profiting.

But as ever there is a twist in the story leading to a poignant end to the book.

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