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.

Valerio Varesi


(Born in 1959 in Turin, Italy)

Valerio Varesi was born in Turin but his parents were from Parma and they returned to the Emilia-Romagna city when he was three. He grew up and was educated there. 

After graduating in philosophy from the University of Bologna , he became a journalist, eventually working as the Parma correspondent for both La Stampa and La Repubblica. He remains on the staff of La Repubblica at their Bologna office, specialising in environmental issues.

Varesi began writing crime novels in the 1990s and numbers more than 20 now, ranging from historical fiction to modern, psychological drama.

He created the protagonist for whom he has become known, the cigar-smoking gourmand Commissario Soneri, in 1998, in Ultime notizie di una fuga (Latest News of an Escape), although this is a novel that was not published in English.

Soneri was not introduced to English audiences until 2003, when Il fiume delle nebbie was translated as River of Shadows by the highly-respected Joseph Farrell, who has also translated Dario Fo's work into English.

River of Shadows earned glowing reviews, not only for the intricacies of Varesi's stories but for his literary quality, particularly in his ability to capture the oppressive nature of the climate of the Po Valley, with its stifling summers and murky, chilly winters, and its effect on the people who live there.

Five more Soneri novels have since appeared in English translation, while Fog and Crimes, an Italian TV series based on Varesi's character, is available on DVD.

Commissario Soneri novels translated into English by Joseph Farrell:

1. River of Shadows (2010)
2. The Dark Valley (2012)
3. Gold, Frankincense and Dust (2012)
4. A Woman Much Missed (2017)
5. The Lizard Strategy (2018)
6. The Unseen (2022)

(Picture of Varesi by Guido Giombi via Wikimedia Commons)

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