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.


A Sea of Troubles

A Commissario Brunetti novel by Donna Leon

After a fisherman and his son are murdered and left on their boat, which is then set on fire and sunk, Commissario Brunetti has to go to the island of Pellestrina in the Venetian lagoon to investigate the crime.

But the Commissario and his Sergeant, Vianello, find themselves up against a brick wall in the close-knit community of Pellestrina, where the tough fishermen and their downtrodden wives stubbornly avoid cooperating with the police.

The lagoon can be treacherous in bad weather

The beautiful and stylish Signorina Elettra, the Vice-Questore’s secretary, reveals she has a cousin who lives on the island and volunteers to visit her for a few days to see what she can find out.

Despite his misgivings about her safety, Brunetti finds he can’t dissuade her and she takes some holiday from the Questura to go to the island.

Brunetti and Vianello continue to pursue their enquiries officially, returning to Pellestrina, which is south of the Lido out in the lagoon, in the police launch, piloted by the long-serving Bonsuan.

Meanwhile, Signorina Elettra enjoys her holiday, while maintaining her cover, but finds herself falling for a handsome stranger she is introduced to in a bar.

The atmosphere of Pellestrina, which is only a few kilometres from Venice, but where the inhabitants don’t even speaks the same dialect as the Venetians, is evoked well by Donna Leon. She displays her extensive knowledge of the island, which is just a short trip across the water from Venice, where she lives.

But the weather in this part of Italy in the spring can change quickly and as Brunetti is getting closer to the truth, a terrible storm descends, which puts them all at risk.

A Sea of Troubles won the Crime Writers’ Association Macallan Silver Dagger in 2000.

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August Heat

An Inspector Montalbano Mystery by Andrea Camilleri

Montalbano has been tasked by his girlfriend, Livia, with finding a villa near his Sicilian home for her and her friends to rent during the August holiday period. He finds it impossible, with all the estate agents laughingly telling him every property was let out ages ago.

Then, by some miracle he is notified of a cancellation. A nice house by the sea with access to the beach has become available only six miles from where he lives.

Montalbano's investigation gives him chance to
 cool off in the sea during the heat of August

But after Livia and her friends, a married couple with a young child, arrive, there is one disaster after another. They have to deal with invasions of cockroaches, rodents and spiders before they can settle down and enjoy their holiday.

After the couple’s young son goes missing, Livia calls in Montalbano to investigate. He discovers the child has fallen down a hole in the garden and accidentally discovered a hidden basement where he is trapped.

After the little boy has been rescued, Montalbano notices an old trunk in the basement and when he opens it, makes a grim discovery.

It is the final straw for the family and they leave with Livia, all blaming the whole fiasco on the hapless Montalbano.

The inspector launches an investigation after his discovery, with the assistance of two of his officers, the diligent Fazio and the comical Catarella.

But he is hampered by the scorching Sicilian weather making it difficult to work and also becomes distracted by his feelings for a beautiful, young blonde girl who is involved in the case.

Montalbano is kept going by taking long swims in the sea and making frequent visits to his favourite trattoria . He also enjoys the wonderful Sicilian delicacies prepared for him by his housekeeper, Adelina, such as pappanozza, boiled onions and potatoes mashed and served cold seasoned with oil, vinegar, salt and pepper and purpiteddri, baby octopus in a sauce of tomatoes and olives.

Using his unorthodox sleuthing tactics and brilliant flashes of intuition he solves the case, achieving a Montalbano style of justice at the end.

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More reading:

Andrea Camilleri profile and full list of Montalbano titles