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.


Death in the High City

A Butler and Bartorelli mystery by Val Culley

In this first book in the Butler and Bartorelli series, journalist Kate Butler has travelled to Bergamo in northern Italy to investigate the circumstances of the sudden death of her cousin.

Bergamo's beautiful Piazza Vecchia
Bergamo's beautiful Piazza Vecchia
The dead woman, Sophie Westmullen, had been staying in the Città Alta while researching and writing a biography of the composer Gaetano Donizetti.

The novel, which was published in 2014, is the first in a series featuring the characters of Kate Butler, a freelance journalist, and her partner Steve Bartorelli, who has just retired from the police force he has served for 30 years, having reached the rank of Detective Chief Inspector.

Sophie had been living in an apartment in Bergamo’s Città Alta and much of the action in the novel takes place within the 16th century walls surrounding the high city. Although her death looks suspicious at first, the local police do not believe there is enough evidence for them to open a murder enquiry and so Kate Butler tries to get some answers about her cousin's 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 mysterious death in the Città Alta, her partner, Steve Bartorelli, joins her in Bergamo to help her unravel the mystery and trap the person responsible for the deaths.

The book enables the reader to go along with the investigators for the ride and enjoy Bergamo’s architecture and scenery while savouring the many descriptions of local food and wine.

It has been written in a style designed to appeal to anyone who enjoys the ‘cosy’ crime fiction genre in English literature and the setting has been used to appeal to readers who enjoy detective novels set in Italy.

The novel puts the spotlight on many of Bergamo’s main attractions, such as Piazza Vecchia, with the Campanone, the Palazzo della Ragione and the Biblioteca Civica. The plot of the novel particularly features the church of Santa Maria Maggiore and the Donizetti Museum.