Candida Martinelli's Italophile Site

Main Page This family-friendly site celebrates Italian culture for the enjoyment of children and adults. Site-Overview



Gialli - Mystery Books and Police Thriller Series set in Italy

A few feature hyphenated Italians around the world



Ancient Rome Mysteries


My Two New Italophile Sites

Italophile Book Reviews offers personal views on many books that might interest lovers of Italy.  Authors and Publishers:  I review books set in Italy, or about Italy and Italian culture, or about hyphenated Italian culture, or Ancient Rome.  My site is family-friendly. Indie (Self) published books, and small publishing houses are welcome.  Contact:   info @

Italophile Books is an linked shop that has only products Italophiles are sure to love.  Shop with no distractions!  You can click through to the full site at any time, keeping your shopping cart.  Checkout is through's usual secure system.



Series Translated from Italian


Andrea Camilleri / Montalbano

Michele Guittari / Michele Ferrara

Massimo Carlotto / Aligator

Carlo Lucarelli / Inspector Grazia Negro

Valerio Varesi / Commissioner Soneri

Luigi Guicciardi / Inspector Cataldo

Gianrico Carofiglio / Guido Guerrieri

Marco Vichi / Inspector Bordelli




A Cozy Giallo by Candida Martinelli

Series Written in English


Edward Sklepowich / Urbino MacIntyre

Donna Leon / Guido Brunetti

Sara Poole / Francesca Giordano

Beverle Graves Myers / Tito Amato

David Hewson / Nic Costa

Christobel Kent / Sandro Cellini

Conor Fitzgerald / Alec Blume

Iain Pears / Jonathan Argyll

Magdalen Nabb / Marshal Guarnaccia

Michael Dibdin / Aurelio Zen

Tobias Jones / P.I. Castagnetti

Lucretia Grindle / Inspector Pallioti

Grace Brophy / Alessandro Cenni

Timothy Williams / Piero Trotti

Paul Adam / Gianni Castiglione

Simon Buck / Peter White

Marshal Browne / Inspector Anders

Timothy Holme / Achille Peroni

John Galavan / Art Theft Kindle Series

Margaret Moore / Dr. Ruggiero Girolamo

Diane A. S. Stuckart / Leonardo Da Vinci

George Herman / Leonardo and Niccolo

Julie Sarff / Lily Bilberry

Celia Conrad / Alicia Allen

Traci Andrighetti / Franki Amato

Beate Boeker / Carlina & Stefano

Maria Grazia Swan / Mina Calvi

Rosie Genova / Victoria Renzi

Maria Grazia Swan / Lella York




Also see my pages:


Thrillers set in Italy

Mysteries set in Ancient Rome

Non-fiction books about Italy

Romances set in Italy

Historical Novels set in Italy

Italian Bestselling Writers


If you're interested in books set in Italy, but not necessarily mysteries, you can use this Search tool to find what you are looking for from  

Just enter 'Books' in the 'Search' field, and something like 'thriller Italy' in the 'Keywords' field.  Then click on the 'Go' button to see the list of thrillers set in Italy, or having to do with Italy.  

You can combine 'Italy' with whatever genre interests you:  biography, history, humor, inspirational...



Amazon Logo


 Giallo is Italian for the color yellow, and this was the color of the covers on police thrillers and mysteries printed in Italy for quite a long time. 

Since then, the book cover color has became the common name for a mystery or a police thriller in book and any other form:  un giallo, gialli

The Fondazione Franco Fossati has a great reference page, in Italian.  These two images are from that site, which is well worth a visit.




Some of these series are out-of-print, but well worth looking for at secondhand dealers like Better World Books, who ship worldwide for free. 

This link goes to the Kindle page for Italy Mysteries:   Kindle Italy Mysteries








Series Written in English


Edward Sklepowich and his Urbino MacIntyre

Edward Sklepowich's detective is amateur sleuth and longtime Venice resident Urbino MacIntyre.  MacIntyre is an ex-pat from the States and an author of biographies of Italophiles who have lived in Venice.  His partners in sleuthing are an Italian Countess and Venice, both beautiful and glorious. 

Mr. Sklepowich is a solid writer who leaves no loose ends, and who writes in the style of the classic mystery writers.  His books are not police procedurals, but are the classic three act mysteries, with the murder happening at the end of Act I, after we've met all the potential suspects.  Lengthy ruminations on facts uncovered fill Act II.  And the killer is revealed at the end of Act III, followed by an Epilogue that wraps up all the loose ends.

The author peppers his books with literary and historical references that will stimulate readers, who have similar interests, to rush to references and to read books, to flesh out the backdrop of the mystery series stories.  The extra research is not necessary to enjoy the stories, but it just an extra level of intellectual entertainment provided by the erudite author.

The books in the series are to date:

  • Death in a Serene City
  • Farewell to the Flesh
  • Liquid Desires
  • Black Bridge
  • Death in the Palazzo
  • Deadly to the Sight
  • The Last Gondola
  • Frail Barrier
  • The Veils of Venice

Venice from above, the setting for this series.

The author was and is inspired by Henry James.  Jamesian motifs, allusions and direct references dot all the books in the series.  Mr. Sklepowich's first proposal for the series was to have Henry James as the sleuth.  I imagine the Contessa character might have been originally intended as Mrs. Arthur (Katherine) Bronson, a famous ex-pat society hostess and philanthropist who lived in Venice for twenty years, had a Grand Canal villa, and who was a close, platonic friend of Henry James.

Sklepowich departs from Henry's model during the course of the Urbino MacIntyre series.  But there are plenty of Jamesian references to Urbino as a "monk" who retreats to his Venetian palace as if it were a "cell", and to Urbino's good manners, kindness, modesty, need for privacy and personal freedom, and his reticence about his sexual life.


The main staircase of Ca' Rezzonico.

Urbino's sexuality is downplayed and never spoken of directly.  Only subtle allusions are made to or about it.  In fact, Urbino is said to approve of lies, presumably about private things such as sexuality, in this imperfect world of ours, because the truth might cause too much damage to the innocent

The gentle, tactful and intelligent way Mr. Sklepowich deals with this aspect of his Urbino character (and other gay characters in the books), is a real plus to the novels, in my opinion.  It adds a lovely, allusive undercurrent to the stories, much like the Jamesian references do.

The Last Gondola feels inspired by Henry James's novella The Aspern Papers, and it explores certain aspects of Urbino's character that were inspired by a decadent fictional character, des Esseintes, created by the French writer Huysman, in his novel A rebours (Against Nature or Wrong Way).

The canal-level entrance to the Grand Canal palace Ca' Rezzonico.

Visit my Italophile Book Review page for this series.














Donna Leon and her Guido Brunetti

Donna Leon authors a police procedural series set in Venice featuring Guido Brunetti, a vice-commissario of the Venice police

I've read many of the Brunetti series books.  Ms. Leon's books have become progressively more offensive in the views espoused by her characters, often having nothing to do with the plot.

Those views are unpleasant, to say the least, concerning:

  • Roma or Rom,

  • southern Italians,

  • Milanese,

  • people who believe in God,

  • Germans,

  • tourists,

  • people with cosmetic surgery,

  • French,

  • housewives,

  • Chinese immigrants

  • eastern Europeans,

  • animal welfare people,

  • business people,

  • people with weight problems,

  • journalists, and most especially,

  • U.S. Americans.

The books in the series seem less polished as they continue, in my opinion.   The books come across as rush jobs.  Her editor seems to have done nothing more than look for typos.  I've even seen a reader review or two of the last books who suspect a ghostwriter is writing the books now.

Visit my Italophile Book Review page for this series.




By Its Cover by Donna Leon

By Its Cover is book number twenty-three in the Commissario Guido Brunetti Mystery Series set in Venice, Italy.  The Italian setting is the reason I requested a review-copy of this police procedural novel. 

Strongest in the book are the descriptions of local places and the details of local customs.  Commissario Guido Brunetti's love a literature and history takes center stage in By Its Cover, the title taken from the expression "You can't judge a book by its cover." 

There are lots of long reflections by Brunetti in By Its Cover.  Actually, most of the book is made up of ruminations by Brunetti.  The third person narration, is limited to Brunetti's state of mind, so we get a front row seat to every twist and turn of this thoughts. 

The author is a former English teacher, so one would expect the English to be of a high standard.  I noticed a few confusing uses of the pronoun "he", but overall the English is of an excellent standard.  What a joy to see a writer using the full set of punctuation marks, and using them correctly! 

Do not expect a fast-moving police thriller.  By Its Cover moves slowly, as slowly as Commissario Brunetti moves through his native Venice when not fueled by a recently drunk espresso.   

It reads as if several chapters at the end of the book are missing.  The case is resolved in a perfunctory manner.  However, Brunetti usually treats us to a detailed explanation of the case, and some philosophical ruminations about the case and humankind, then he seeks solace with his family.  How odd! 

Read my full review at Italophile Book Reviews.



Sara Poole's Francesca Giordano

Poison by Sara Poole

Poole’s novel begins this historical-mystery series starring Francesca Giordano, a young woman who takes over her father’s job as head poisoner for the Borgia family.

Working for Cardinal Borgia as he attempts to become pope is a deadly and dangerous business—Francesca’s father is already dead in mysterious circumstances, and threats lurk everywhere. But Francesca has one key advantage; no one takes a woman seriously. That’s unfortunate because Francesca happens to be one of the greatest poisoners in late-fifteenth-century Rome.

These are the books in the Poisoner Mystery series so far:

  • Poison - a Novel of the Renaissance
  • The Borgia Betrayal
  • The Borgia Mistress


Author's Website


Beverle Graves Myers and her Tito Amato

Interrupted Aria by Beverle Graves Myers

This is the first in a series of historical mysteries set in mid-late 1700s Venice featuring an opera singer as the amateur detective.  Tito Amato is no ordinary opera singer.  He is a castrato, a male soprano, created by a surgeon's knife.  His multi-octave voice has a power that female sopranos can only envy.  The price?  He can never marry in a Catholic ceremony, nor can he father children.

From a Reader Review:  "Filled with lush description of Venice during Carnivale, its political and social structure, the inner workings of the opera company and Tito's relationships with his family, friends, colleagues and himself, this is a rich, wonderful book.  I also found it a good mystery with a couple of twists and some good suspense. This is a series I shall definitely follow."

Here are links to the other entries in the "Tito Amato" series at


Tito Amato Series Books in order of publication:

  • Interrupted Aria
  • Painted Veil
  • Cruel Music
  • The Iron Tongue of Midnight
  • Her Deadly Mischief
  • Whispers of Vivaldi 

I have read the first five books in this series and I recommend them highly (C.M.). 

The author is a wonderful writer who manages to create vivid characters set in an era long ago that comes to life in the writer's capable and erudite hands.  Her wonderful imagination is a joy to behold.

While at times the mysteries are not so mysterious, I've read each book to the end, if only to enjoy the characters, setting, and delightful writing.  Some of the books end on very somber notes, which I didn't enjoy, but the journey getting there was always entertaining.

I especially respect the writer for writing the books in the 1st-person-narrative style, as if we were reading her character Tito Amato's memoirs about his amateur detective cases. 

So many writers these days use the 3rd-person-limited style (the "I"  turned to "he"), that it is refreshing to read a book in an undisguised 1st-person-narrative style.  It brings us closer to her unique protagonist.

My favorite book in the series is the last one, published in 2009, Her Deadly Mischief.  I look forward to reading the latest one, Whispers of Vivaldi

Note:  The links I offer are to  But I recommend you look for these books either at the Poisoned Pen Press website, or for great prices, secondhand, from Better World Books, who ship worldwide for free.

Author's Website

Visit my Italophile Book Review page for this series.



David Hewson's Nic Costa

A Season for the Dead by David Hewson

Hewson's protagonist, Nic Costa, is a young state police officer in Rome, Italy.  As is the case with many protagonists in gritty, seedy police thrillers, Nic gets the crap kicked out of him, physically and psychologically, regularly while working complex cases in Rome, and once in Venice. 

The writing reminds me of John Le Carre because of the omniscient narrator who creeps inside the minds of even the sickest characters.  But Hewson takes it further, and puts us, at times, even into the minds of the murder victims as they die.  He also explicitly describes sex scenes to the point of pornography.

As the series progresses, the author seems to leave his protagonist, Nic Costa, behind.  Nic feels like just one of the many characters in the books, rather than the one for whom we might want to root, or feel some sympathy.  That varies from book to book.

Nic Costa Series books in order of publication:

  • A Season for the Dead
  • The Villa of Mysteries
  • The Sacred Cut
  • The Lizard's Bite
  • The Seventh Sacrament
  • The Garden of Evil
  • Dante's Numbers (or The Dante Killings)
  • The Blue Demon (or The City of Fear)
  • The Fallen Angel
  • Carnival for the Dead

Author's Website


Visit my Italophile Book Review page for this series.




Christobel Kent and her Sandro Cellini

Sandro Cellini is a former Florentine policeman (disgraced and forced to leave the force) who now makes his living as a private investigator in Florence, Italy. 

These are the books in the series so far (all available as Kindle books):

  • The Drowning River:  A Mystery in Florence (A Time of Mourning)
  • A Murder in Tuscany (A Fine and Private Place)
  • The Dead Season




Conor Fitzgerald and his Commissario Alec Blume

From the book description of the first book in the series by an Irish writer who lives and works in Rome: 

"In this accomplished and riveting thriller, police inspector, Alec Blume battles organized crime, political pressure, and his own demons as he investigates the death of Arturo Clemente.

Blume, a clever American expatriate with a disposition against authority, soon realizes that he is being watched from on high.  Forced to negotiate with powerful, suspicious people on all sides of the law, Blume must rely on instinct, drive, and luck to find the killer.

Blume is... intelligent but flawed, cynical but unafraid.  He is a trustworthy and compelling protagonist for this first installment in a gritty and promising series."

These are the books in the series, set in Rome, so far:

  • The Dogs of Rome
  • The Fatal Touch
  • Namesake


Author's Website



Iain Pears and his Jonathan Argyll

Iain Pears writes a series featuring art historian Jonathan Argyll and the woman who becomes his wife during the run of the series, Flavia di Stefano, a member of an Italian police squad that aims to prevent the theft of art from Italy's famous museums, private collections, and churches.  Flavia's boss, Bottando, is also a recurring character and a father figure for Flavia.

Of all the series on this page, I have to admit this is one of my favorites.  The point of view alters throughout the books between the three recurring characters, to entertaining effect.  Mr. Pears uses a light touch, plenty of humor, and appears to savor his unorthodox protagonist

Argyll is gangly, awkward, obtuse, lazy and now very good at his art dealer job.  He does have the ability to be in the wrong place at the right time, however, and is very good at stumbling along to a clever conclusion of the mystery.

There are seven books in the series, that is often referred to as the Art History Mystery Series.  The last book was published in 2000 and I doubt there will be any more in the series.

Piazza del Campidoglio in Rome, the seat of the Italian government and a setting that occurs from time to time in Pears' books .

The Raphael Affair:  In the first book in the series, we are introduced to Jonathan Argyll, an enthusiastic young art scholar from England who has followed his suspicions about a long-lost Raphael painting to a small church in Rome.  Not only is the painting in question gone from the site, it has been swiftly purchased, restored, auctioned, and installed in Rome's National Museum.  But when the recovered Raphael is just as swiftly destroyed in a fire, Argyll begins to suspect its authenticity…and the innocence of every person in its path.

The Titian Committee:  When a murderer strikes down an American member of the prestigious Titian Committee in Venice, General Taddeo Bottando of Rome's art-theft squad dispatches special assistant Flavia to gather information.  What begins as a simple political mission becomes a dangerous quest for a missing portrait attributed to Titian.  She enlists the aid of art dealer Jonathan Argyll, who has become her friend, despite her signals that she would welcome something more.

The Bernini Bust:  British art historian Jonathan Argyll is in sunny Los Angeles conducting some profitable business with the Moresby Museum, the sale of the Titian from the previous book.  The museum's owner is murdered , a Bernini bust disappears, and a friend of Jonathan's is suspected of the crimes.  While awaiting the arrival of his friends from the Italian National Art Theft Squad, Jonathan finds himself targeted by the killer.  More romantically crossed signals between Flavia and hapless Jonathan.

The Last Judgment:  Jonathan Argyll, British art dealer and sleuth, delivers an obscure 18th-century painting to a Parisian dealer's client in Rome.  The client, however, ends up dead.  Argyll and his now fiancée, Flavia de Stefano, (they finally got their signals alighned) pursue the murderer as well as information about the painting.

Giotto's Hand:  General Bottando of Rome's Art Theft Squad believes a lone criminal mastermind-dubbed "Giotto" has been stealing priceless Renaissance art for over 30 years.  Bottando's right hand, the beautiful Flavia di Stefano, quickly locates a possible culprit but he's in England.  Flavia relies on her fiancé, English art dealer Jonathan Argyll, to track the man down, which of course leads to all manner of disasters.

Death and Restoration:  General Bottando has received a tip about a planned raid at a nearby monastery.  He's relying on his colleague Flavia di Stefano and her art-expert fiancé, Jonathan Argyll, to thwart the plot, but both are beyond baffled. 

The Immaculate Deception:  For newlywed and Italian art theft squad head Flavia di Stefano, the honeymoon is over when a painting, borrowed from the Louvre and en route to a celebratory exhibition, is stolen.  Across town, her husband, art historian Jonathan Argyll, begins an investigation of his own, tracing the past of a small Renaissance painting -- an Immaculate Conception -- owned by Flavia's mentor, retired general Taddeo Bottando. 

My list of this author's books at

Visit my Italophile Book Reviews page for this series.






Magdalen Nabb and her Marshal Guarnaccia

British expatriate Magdalen Nabb wrote a police procedural series set in her adopted hometown, Florence, featuring Marshal Guarnaccia of the Carabinieri

He's a modest, unambitious type who nevertheless succeeds with plodding police work, moments of inspiration, and deep compassion. 

  • Death of an Englishman
  • Death of a Dutchman
  • Death in Springtime
  • Death in Autumn
  • The Marshal and the Murderer
  • The Marshal and the Madwoman
  • The Marshal's Own Case
  • The Marshal Makes His Report
  • The Marshal at the Villa Torrini
  • The Monster of Florence
  • Property of Blood
  • Some Bitter Taste
  • The Innocent
  • Vita Nuova

My list of this author's books at

The Carabinieri are actually a branch of the Italian military that reports directly to the Italian head of state, the President.  They were set up soon after Italian unification and patterned on the French Gendarmerie

To read more about Ms. Nabb and her books, click here to link to her page on a British mystery site

Ms. Nabb passed away in 2008.  You can read a lovely endorsement of her work hereAnd like all the books on this page, I suggest you look for them, at wonderfully reasonable prices, secondhand, at Better World Books, who ship worldwide for free.

Marshal Guarnaccia's office is part of Pitti Palace in Florence.  It's the part protruding on the left, a Carabinieri office, in the books, I'm not sure in real life.

Carabinieri and their "Gazzella" and helicopter, like the ones used by Marshal Guarnaccia in Florence, click on the helicopter to go to the official Carabinieri site (in Italian).

Visit my Italophile Book Reviews page for this series.





Michael Dibdin and his Aurelio Zen

Michael Dibdin wrote several Aurelio Zen police procedurals set in various locations in Italy.  I've read Cosi Fan Tutti, but it didn't make me a fan of the series.  Rather too butch and lacking in compassion for my tastes.

  • Ratking
  • Vendetta
  • Cabal
  • Dead Lagoon
  • Cosi Fan Tutti
  • A Long Finish
  • Blood Rain
  • And Then You Die
  • Medusa
  • Back to Bologna
  • End Games

To read more about Mr. Dibdin and his fictional police inspector Mr. Zen, click here.  This links you to Mr. Dibdin's page on his publisher's site.  

The first three books have been adapted to television as films for British television.  Oddly, unlike the British adaptation of the Swedish 'Wallander' mystery books, where all the actors are British, the adaptation of 'Zen', as it is called, mixes British actors with Italian actresses.

While this may be 'nice' for the production staff and casting directors, it does disrupt the suspension of disbelief that all those Brits wandering around Naples fighting crime and/or acting corrupt are really Italians. 

When you have Zen with his neutral British accent, affected by the star, Rufus Sewell, talking with a hot female suspect (and lover) who answers him in what sounds like an impersonation of Sofia Loren, I can't help but think:  "Why the Hell are British cops policing Italy?"

Here's a clip.  See what you think:


Sadly, Mr. Dibdin passed away in 2007.  The last book in the Aurelio Zen series was publish posthumously:  End Games.

My list of this author's books at

Visit my Italophile Book Reviews page for this series.





Tobias Jones / P.I. Castagnetti

Orphaned, school of hard knocks trained, Private Investigator Castagnetti (Casta) is a stubborn, iconoclastic hero.  He works cases his own way, sometimes to the detriment of his clients.  He operates in Italy's north and the books are set in present day Italy, with all its warts and charms.

These are the books in the series so far:

  • Salati Case
  • White Death
  • Death of a Showgirl


Death of a Showgirl by Tobias Jones

The subtitle of Death of a Showgirl is What is the price of fame?  The quest for "showgirl" or vedetta celebrity by young women in Italy is the subject of this hard-boiled, private-investigator novel.  A "showgirl" in sexist Italy is nothing more than skimpily-clad eye-candy on the TV screen, while the sleazy male hosts of the TV shows do all the talking, gawking and groping. 

The author of Death of a Showgirl is familiar with Italy's criminal underbelly, having researched and written Italy-set true crime novels.  His P.I. novels mine the same ground.  Death of a Showgirl is clearly inspired by the former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Belusconi's salacious, sexist and stupid misadventures and crimes during his climb from property developer to TV producer, TV mogul, media mogul, on to political party leader and prime-minister.  The author's Berlusconi-inspired character in Death of a Showgirl, a "stocky man in a double-breasted suit", is wonderfully drawn. 

Like the Los Angeles based P.I. of yore, Casta moves among the creeps who populate the under-belly of society, while working for the well-off, who live behind walls and titles and big bank accounts.  Casta also deals with those in the middle of society, often good-hearted people who have been ground down by society or evil people. 

The macho creepiness of Italy's male elite is superbly drawn by the author, showing the easy excuses they make for their self-indulgent infidelities, and the sense of belonging to a virtual, cool, all-male club with sexual privileges.  Anyone who criticizes them is just "not cool". 

An Italophile loves the history and rich culture of Italy, not the modern-day government that runs the country, or the weak economy and jobs market, or the lack of equality and respect for Italy's women.  If you can handle the truth, and you enjoy traditional hard-boiled P.I. novels, then you should enjoy Death of a Showgirl and the other books in The Castagnetti Series

Read my full review with illustrations at Italophile Book Reviews.



Lucretia Grindle / Inspector Pallioti

Inspector Alessandro Allioti works diligently to resolve cases that might have links to crimes committed in the distant past.  His home base is Florence.

These are the books in the series so far:

  • The Lost Daughter
  • Villa Triste




Grace Brophy / Alessandro Cenni

Commissario Alessandro Cenni works in hilly Umbria for Italy's State Police.

These are the books in the series so far:

  • Last Enemy
  • A Deadly Paradise
  • The Absence of Death (coming soon)


Author's Website



Timothy Williams / Piero Trotti

This police procedural series consists of 5 books (with a possible 6th)  about the life and work of Commissario Piero Trotti who works in a fictional Po Valley city.  The books cover much of post WWII Italy's history.  Trotti is a rather dour character whose only satisfying relationships are with his colleagues.

Soho Crime is reissuing this series!  Here is the description for the first book in the series:

A small-town kidnapping presents a major problem for Commissario Trotti—and draws us into CWA Award winner Timothy Williams' debut, set against the rich backdrop of a provincial Italian city.

Northern Italy, 1978: Commissario Piero Trotti, trusted senior police investigator in an anonymous provincial city off the River Po, has two difficult cases to solve. An unidentified, dismembered body has been found in the river, and it's up to Trotti to figure out who the murder victim is.

Meanwhile, an estranged friend approaches Trotti with a desperate personal plea: his six-year-old daughter—Trotti's own goddaughter—has been kidnapped. In the wake of the high-profile February 1978 kidnapping of Aldo Moro, president of Italy's majority party, whom the police have been utterly helpless to solve or prosecute, faith in law enforcement is at an all-time low, and it's no surprise the distraught father doesn't isn't willing to take this matter to the police.

Williams' first novel is a gripping, literary thriller with vividly drawn characters and lush descriptions reminiscent of crime masters Raymond Chandler and Nicolas Freeling. For the first time, the Commissario Trotti series is available to readers across the US.

The books in the Commissario Trotti series:

  • Converging Parallels
  • The Puppeteer
  • Persona Non Grata
  • Black August
  • Big Italy
  • The Third Level (not yet in print)

I will put links to when the new books go on sale, probably by end-2015.  In the meantime, you can visit Timothy Williams's website for information on his new novel set in Guadeloupe, and on the Commissario Trotti series.

A reviewer with the Italy's newspaper Corriere della Sera describes this series as being "free from prejudices and clichés, and being realistic and well-informed", praise indeed coming from an Italian.  And here is a link to the International Noir blog's rave reviews of the first two books in the series.  Here is a quote from their reviews:

Williams is a very visual storyteller, in brief descriptions of setting and action between the realistic conversations and Trotti's own somewhat melancholy inner dialogues. The characters are not types, they are fully realized, and the setting is solidly anchored in Italian social history.

Interestingly, the first book in the series has been released in Italian as part of Mondadori's Giallo series, a series of detective stories published with the traditional yellow cover that gives its name to mystery/detective stories in Italy (gialli).  Oddly, they changed the title of the book to Il poliziotto e' solo (The Policeman is Alone), and apparently on a bicycle!



Until the new release, you can look for secondhand editions on-line at Better World Books, which offers free international shipping (actually, the shipping price is included in the price of the book)

Paul Adam / Gianni Castiglione

This series has a unique amateur detective.  Gianni Castiglione is an aging luther, a maker and restorer of violins.  He live in Cremona and spends most of his time adoring his grandchildren and playing chamber-quartets with the local priest, the chief of police...  Well, you can see that the police chief draws Gianni into cases that have to do with violins.

These are the books in the series so far:

  • The Rinaldi Quartet
  • The Paganini's Ghost



Simon Buck / Peter White

Peter White is a private security consultant working in Italy.  Here is the author's blurb:  "Peter White mysteries will intrigue you with their twists and turns, while fascinating you with high technology and state of the art techniques, and tempting you with exotic locations and enticing meals.  If you’re a foodie, a techno-mage, an armchair traveller, an amateur sleuth or just enjoy a good yarn, you’ll love these books."

These are the books in the series so far:

  • Library of the Soul
  • Crypto Da Vinci (prequel to the first book)
  • Iscariot (coming soon)



Marshall Browne / Inspector Anders

Inspector Anders has one leg and works for the Rome State Police at the beginning of the series.  Then he works for Interpol.  As you can see, the man has traumas and lots of police experience.  He is pushed to the edge of his life and sanity regularly.

These are the books in the series so far:

  • Wooden Leg
  • Ship of Fools
  • (coming soon)



Timothy Holme / Achille Peroni

The author has sadly passed away, but he leaves us with a lovely five-book series set in Italy's troubled 1980s about a southern Italian man who works for the State Police in Verona.

I've read the first book in this series, The Neapolitan Streak, and I enjoyed it immensely.  The protagonist, Inspector Achille Peroni is a unique and fun character.  The author lets us get inside the head of this gorgeous Neapolitan man, where we discover his vanity, ample ego, dual character of former child criminal and today's honorable policeman, Anglophile, poser, publicity hound, loving brother and uncle, and his innate desire to uncover the truth.

The author uses the 3rd person limited narrative style, but he moves the point-of-view between the characters so we get an insight not only into Achille, but of how others view him.  This technique lets us see the hostility a southern Italian can suffer in Northern Italy, but also the view of the southerner to the Northerner's character, which adds another level of enjoyment to the stories.

The author uses a light touch, employing humor and irony, and he clearly loves to share the details of everyday Italian life with outsiders.  His take on Italians is affectionate but honest. 

Italy is a country of stark contrasts in landscape, the physical characteristics of her people, and in the characters of the 20 patchwork regions that make up modern Italy.  The readers gains an insight into what it is like to live inside the skin of Italians, at least for a little while, until the crime is solved by Inspector Achille Peroni, the "Rudolph Valentino of the Italian Police".

This is from the description on the first book in the series The Neapolitan Streak

"Achille Peroni loves the spicy food and passionate arguments of southern Italy, land of his birth. But fate -- and the Italian police force -- have stuck him in Verona, a city of bean soup and endless problems with the Red Brigades, a vicious gang that relies on bombs and high-profile kidnappings to further its rather fuzzy political aims.

'When a wealthy general, head of one of Italy's finest Fascist families, goes missing from his palatial estate, the Reds are the most obvious suspects.  But Peroni finds himself considering a crime far more subtle and sinister than anything the Reds can dream up.  A crime, in fact, the leads all the way back to Romeo and Juliet, the most famous Veroneses of them all."

This is from the description of The Assisi Murders, which gives a better idea of Peroni's character and the style of writing:

"Under duress, handsome, intelligent womanizer Achille Peroni, chief inspector of the Venetian police, accompanies his sister on a pilgrimage to Assisi, only to find that to save an attractive woman from jail, he must learn why a young man's research into a 13-century murder caused his own in the 20th century.

'Holme describes Peroni's latest adventure in a quaintly perfunctory and slightly tongue-in-cheek style that both enlivens his eccentric characters and energizes the Italian surroundings."

There are five books in this series:

  • The Neapolitan Streak
  • The Funeral of Gondolas
  • The Devil and the Dolce Vita
  • The Assisi Murders
  • At the Lake of Sudden Death

Visit my Italophile Book Reviews page for this series.



John Galavan's Italian Art Theft Series - Kindle Series

From the Author's page at Amazon:

"Many of these Italian stories lead-off with the personal life of a Renaissance master. These same works travel through the centuries to appear once again today in Florence or in Roma. This begins the adventure and the theft."

I've read the 10th book in the series, New Man, New Troubles.  It is an old-fashioned novel in the style of Graham Greene or John LeCarre.  The author moves deftly between characters, making each rounded and human, then he moves on to the next character in the web-like story.  By the end of the book, the strands come together neatly, and we have come to know a dozen or so characters quite well. 

I suspect we have become spoiled by protagonist-centered novels told from a limited third-person perspective; we never leave the main character's point-of-view, forcing us to identify with the protagonist.  The omniscient narrative style, in which this story is told, has fallen out of favor in the last few years, perhaps being seen as too pontifical.  However, John Galavan is very good at writing in this style.  If you have trouble with an omniscient narrator, this series is not for you. 

I must confess, though, that while I admired the author's storytelling skill, I never really connected with the book.  I suspect that is because I was never expected to, since I am not the book's target audience:  a mature man.  Mature men should enjoy the book's strong insights into the minds of the male characters. 

The author has a few quirks:  he appears to dislike commas, and he dots his English with Italian words.  He creates a very strong sense of place.  The editing begins well, but by the third of the way into the book, there are missing words and letters, and extra words, every few pages.  The Italian in the book needs an edit by a fluent speaker.  But despite these minor points, through it all, the author's writing skill and his love of all things Italian shines brightly. 

If you think you might enjoy this series, I suggest you purchase the first book in this Kindle-only series and see what you think.  The books are not expensive, and if you enjoy the novel, there are 23 more books to enjoy!  

Read the full review at Italophile Book Reviews

Italian Art Theft Adventure Series:
1- To Roma! To Roma!
2- Hidden in Florence
3- Stealing Donatello
4- Loyalist Return
5- Perfect Imposters
6- Judgment Day
7- Back to Roma
8- Mamma, No!
9- Everywhere Enemies
10- New Man, New Troubles
11- German Blitz
12- Got Lucky
13- Masterpiece Mix-Up
14- Big Day
15- Favors
16- Are you Dead?
17- They Never Quit
18- Renaissance Women

19- On the Side
20- Promises, Promises
21- Becoming God
22- Sisters
23- Protecting Papa
24- Last Job





Margaret Moore's Dr. Ruggero di Girolamo

This cozy series is set in the fictional hill-town, Borgo San Cristoforo, in Tuscany, and features Dr. Ruggero di Girolamo, a police magistrate.  The author is English but has lived all her adult life in Italy with her Italian husband and children.

From the description of Tuscan Termination:  "In beautiful Tuscany, Italy life seemed like a golden paradise with the picturesque rolling hills, the luscious food and wine, and the generous warmth of the local people. That is why the body floating in the pristine blue waters of a villa's swimming pool was so incongruous.

'Hilary Wright, a proper English lady and next-door-neighbor had found it. Found him exactly-Ettore Fagiolo, a flamboyant local real estate agent and con artist-floating in Nigel and Robin Proctor's ugly, pink swimming pool.

'When Dr. Ruggero Di Girolamo, the magistrate in charge of the case, declares Ettore's death to be a murder, Hilary finds herself drawn into the investigation-first as one of the suspects-then as a conduit to the ex-pats-her fellow suspects-for Dr. Di Girolamo's investigation."

These are the books in the series so far:

  • Tuscan Termination
  • Tuscan Temper
  • Tuscan Terror



Diane A. S. Stuckart's Leonardo Da Vinci

From the description of the first book in this series:

"Travel to the Milan of 1483 with this intriguing new series, starring the legendary Renaissance man himself-Leonardo da Vinci.

'On a royal whim, Ludovico Sforza, the Duke of Milan, orders a living chess game to be enacted by members of his own court. Court Engineer Leonardo da Vinci conjures the spectacle in a single night, but his latest success turns bitter when one of the "pieces"-the Duke's ambassador to France-is murdered.

'Given the brutal climate of court politics, even the Duke's closest advisors are suspect. As an outsider, Leonardo is the only man Sforza can trust to conduct the investigation. With his scrupulous eye for detail, and young apprentice Dino gathering information unnoticed, Leonardo uncovers a vile nest of secrets-while danger, like an ill humor, rises to the surface.

But the most surprising secret of all may be the true identity of his most talented, most trusted apprentice."

The books in the series so far are:

  • The Queen's Gambit
  • Portrait of a Lady
  • A Bolt from the Blue


Author's Website



George Herman's Leonardo da Vinci and Niccolo da Pavia Renaissance Mystery Series

A Comedy of Murders by George Herman

A Comedy of Murders is a richly researched and richly imagined visit to that amazing time of city-states run by princes, and explorations of our planet and the sciences, and a church more concerned with rich coffers than rich souls, and wars fueled by personal vendettas, and personal vendettas fueled by wars. We meet the Duke of Milan, the French King, the Pope, minor city-state princes, courtiers and other hangers-on. The reader does not need to be an expert on these times or people; the author informatively guides us through them.

Have you ever seen Richard Lester's film The Three Musketeers? While reading A Comedy of Murders, I found myself playing a film of the story in my mind, in the style of Lester's filming of the classic historical adventure tale. Both tales are told as bawdy, silly, historical farce, in which real people from the past are imagined as flawed, corrupt, pompous idiots who are lost in circumstances beyond their control.

There are some characters who rise above others in their moral fortitude, and one of those is the artist-architect Leonardo da Vinci. The author weaves Leonardo's life and work into the story, and from about page ninety, Leonardo plays a large role in the story. A Comedy of Murders is actually the first novel in a series of comic novels that feature Leonardo da Vinci and his friend, the fictional Niccolo de Pavia, a diminutive scholar and courtier.

There are eight books in the series, all historical comedies for adults set during the height of the Italian Renaissance, full of courts, castles, dungeons, torture, gossip, courtesans, rivalries, out-sized egos, rampant libidos, political scheming, erudite learning, monumental building project, and the creation of timeless art.

I would advise a reader to sit back and savor the author's masterful recreation of that raucous, vibrant, violent, cruel and creative era. He is especially knowledgeable about Renaissance warfare, and Leonard da Vinci's work. Do not expect a "mystery novel". Be open to the comic historical novel, and let history wash over you. The author makes us a visitor to a Renaissance city-state's court, and puts us in the middle of all the nonsense.

Read my full review at Italophile Book Reviews.

There are eight books in the series:

  • A Comedy of Murders
  • The Tears of the Madonna
  • The Florentine Mourners
  • The Necromancer
  • The Toys of War
  • The Arno Serpent
  • Cardinal Virtues
  • Leonardo's Labyrinth (last in the series, series ends)


Author's Website



Sweet Delicious Madness and the Hordes of Lidias by Julie Sarff

Sweet Delicious Madness and the Hordes of Lidias is Book 3 in Julie Sarff's Kissed in Italy Mystery Series.  This Kindle (mobi) e-book series is pure, silly, fanciful fun.

The protagonist of the series, U.S. ex-pat Lily Bilbury, narrates her adventures in northern Italy, where she lives in a small town on the shores of Lago Maggiore.  Her scatter-brained, fantasy-filled, very funny ramblings describe the adventures of Lily, and her two best girlfriends, and an assorted group of extras, as they attempt to deal with the problems and mysteries that their lives throw at them.

Julie Sarff is wonderful at setting up comic set pieces.  I thought her funniest sequence was in a Swiss hospital.  Lily is given a relaxant to calm her anxiety after a car accident, but the drug has hallucinatory consequences.  She becomes convinced that her doctor is Swiss tennis star Roger Federer.  So, naturally, she attempts to pluck his uni-brow into two respectable eyebrows, with bloody results!

If you enjoy books in a first-person, rambling style, lots of humor, clean romance, light mystery, with a strong dose of local Italian flavor, then the Kissed in Italy Mystery Series is for you.  This Indie-Author is creating a quality series of entertaining, light reads, with stunning covers!

After having read books 1 through 3 I have to say that the humor is consistently and effortlessly funny.  The books are a wonderful way to spend your free time, leaving you in a much better mood than when you first sat down.  The characters are varied and realistic.  The depictions of fame and the famous on ordinary people ring spot on.  And the accurate descriptions of Italians of all stripes speak of personal experience, not of cliches.

There are four books in The Kissed in Italy Series series:

  1. Sweet Delicious Madness and the Many Deaths of Silvio Berlusconi
  2. Italian Folly - Prologue to Sweet Delicious Madness (a novella)
  3. Sweet Delicious Madness and the Hordes of Lidias
  4. Love in Lipari (a novella)

I suggest you purchase books 2 through 4 together, so you get a complete story; hopefully the author will package them together in future.

Read my full review at Italophile Book Reviews.



Murder in Hand by Celia Conrad 

This suspense novel, Murder in Hand, is for cozy enthusiasts!  I love cozy-murder-mysteries, but I have found that those who don't like them tend to actually loath them.  So, only true fans should take up this book.  It is a classic murder mystery with suspense elements, with the added element of legal expertise from the Anglo-Italian solicitor amateur detective, Alicia Allen.

London, England, is not physically far from Italy, but it is culturally light-years away.  Anglo-Italian Alicia has grown up spending her summers in Italy, and speaking Italian with her mother and sister at home.  She loves Italian food, great coffee, red wine, her close family, and the community she creates around her with neighbors and co-workers.  She also loves Pringles potato chips!  That must be the English side of her.  ;-) 

Cozies take their time, so if you are fan, you know to savor the setting details, and the meanderings, and the theories, and the relationships.  They are all here, true to the genre, along with multiple murders, investigative trails galore, an exciting ending, and a romantic Epilog.  This is a book I can recommend for Italophiles, Anglophiles, fans of Traditional British Mysteries, and fans of Cozy-Murder-Mysteries. 

Read my full review at Italophile Book Reviews.

Books in the Alicia Allen Mysteries:

  1. A Model Murder (also reviewed at my Italophile Book Reviews blog)

  2. Wilful Murder

  3. Murder in Hand



Limoncello Yellow by Traci Andrighetti

Limoncello Yellow is the first book in the cozy-murder-mystery Franki Amato Mystery Series.  The protagonist, Francesca (Franki) Amato, is a first generation Italian-(Sicilian)-American in the United States.  She grew up in Houston, Texas, with her parents, brothers, and her very-Sicilian paternal grandmother.  All that wonderful Italian ethnicity enriches Limoncello Yellow

The private detecting firm that Franki joins is run by Franki's old friend, Veronica Maggio, another hyphenated Italian.  The two women bonded in college over "all things Italian", and they enjoy joking together about their ethnicity. 

The cover of the book is very cute, as is the title Limoncello Yellow.  The review-copy e-book I read had a very clear layout and is well-edited, with distinct paragraphs that begin with indents.

Franki's parents and grandmother (nonna) like to play an active part in Franki's life, especially her love-life.  When Franki informs the family she is moving to New Orleans, nonna likes the idea of her spinster (a zitella at twenty-nine) grand-daughter going to the city where nonna lived previously:  "There are still a lotta nice Sicilian boys in New Orleans..."  Italian culture has a central role in Franki's and Veronica's identities. 

Cozy murder mystery romance humor chick-lit:  all these terms fit Limoncello Yellow, a promising start to a fun Italophile series. 

Please read my full review at Italophile Book Reviews.



Delayed Death by Beate Boeker 

Delayed Death is Book #1 in the Temptation in Florence Series, a cozy murder mystery romance series with a strong dose of humor.  The title of the series comes from the lingerie store that the protagonist, Carlina, owns and runs, Temptation, on one of Florence, Italy's, premier shopping streets. 

The Temptation in Florence Series follows the life, adventures and loves of Italian-American Carlina, and of her extended eccentric Italian family, many of whom live in apartments in the same building in central Florence as Carlina and her mother.  Carlina's U.S. American father passed away when Carlina was in her teens, after which her Italian mother moved back to Italy with Carlina and her two siblings. 

The mixed heritage shows in Carlina's unusual sense of humor that has a rich sense of the absurd.  She is also lacking in ego, which makes Carlina something of a willing doormat for her strong-willed relations.  The family's eccentric members and their whims and wishes are a never-ending source of amusement for Carlina.  While often treated like the family's Cinderella, Carlina is also a sexy, saucy, funny thirty-two-year-old woman. 

When a crisis occurs, right at the beginning of Delayed Death, and Carlina gives in to her domineering cousin's wishes, Carlina sets herself on a collision course with police Commissario Stefano Garini. 

The English in Delayed Death is easy to read and well-edited.  The cover is very eye-catching, as are the covers of each book in the series.  There are interesting contrasting characters, lovely Florentine locations, gentle humor, and an entertaining possible love match that rings true. 

The story builds nicely and keeps the action varied with enjoyable interplay between the oddball characters, and especially between Carlina and Stefano.  The Temptation lingerie shop offers lots of opportunity for laughs, among the panties, bras and thongs.

My only reservation is the abrupt ending.  I wanted to hear from the killer how the killings were done and why they were committed.  The love-story felt unresolved, too, at the end.  Perhaps the author wanted to leave that for the next book in the series?  I'll have to read them to find out. 

The books in the Temptation in Florence Series:

  1. Delayed Death  (Please read my full review at my Italophile Book Reviews site.)

  2. Charmer's Death (Also reviewed at Italophile Book Reviews)

  3. Banker's Death

  4. Expected Death




Mina's Adventures Series by Maria Grazia Swan

In this richly imagined series, set in the recent past, Mina Calvi, an Italian-born woman, an immigrant to The United States, has to deal with some overwhelming events.  Her self-deprecating humor and her friends, loyal to the occasionally clueless young woman, help her survive.
The author has made Mina a refreshingly realistic young woman.  Not a silly, kick-ass, one-dimensional character favored by so many publishers these days, Mina is a young woman who has yet to find her place in life.  She is moderately educated, foreign to many American ways, gullible, and has a wonderful sense of the ridiculous.

Mina's humor is real plus to this traditionally written, third-person narrated, clean (cozy) murder-mystery series.  Her unpredictable reactions bring a spontaneity to the story, keeping us guessing about what will happen next, and what Mina will do or say next.

I have read, and enjoyed, all three books in The Mina's Adventures Series:
  1. Love Thy Sister
  2. Bosom Bodies
  3. Italian Summer
  4. [Coming Soon]

The Mina Calvi books are not quick, one-day reads, about one-dimensional characters playacting to formulaic conventions.  The books are entertainingly realistic romantic adventure stories, with mystery and suspense, featuring a complex, growing character, who reacts with realistic human strength and weakness to her unusual situations.  I look forward to the next one!

I review each of the books, without revealing spoilers, on my Italophile Book Reviews site.  Here is the direct link to that page, with the full reviews, and illustrations by the famous Italian advertising poster artist Leonetto Cappiello.

The author has another mystery series that features an Italian-immgrant to the U.S., The Lella York Mysteries Series.  I review the first book in the series at my Italophile Book Reviews site:  Murder Under the Italian Moon.



Murder and Marinara by Rosie Genova

Murder and Marinara is the first book in The Italian Kitchen Mystery Series, a cozy-murder-mystery and romance series set on the Jersey Shore, in the state of New Jersey in the United States.   

The series' protagonist is Victoria Renzi.  Vic is our first-person narrator of the book, guiding us through her adventure with a dry sense of humor. 

The book starts quickly, expertly setting the scene, and introducing us to the various characters in the Renzi family, and to people linked with the family restaurant. 

The Renzi family jumps off the pages with life, easy to visualize and easy to understand.  If you are from that area of the world, you will probably enjoy the story even more, since the locations and people will be instantly recognizable to you. 

The story moves along swiftly.  It is a solid, by-the-book, cozy-murder-mystery:  clean, fun, comforting, with light humor and light romance.   

The murder that occurs is a disaster for the Renzis so Vic gets involved in the investigation to help her family.  Vic questions suspects, ruminates on the case with a side-kick, and eventually resolves the case with an exciting finish. 

Murder and Marinara is full of lots of love for the Jersey Shore and for Italian food and for Italian-American culture.  There are even recipes at the end of the book, including the titular Marinara Sauce.  This is a book for Italophile cozy-enthusiasts!

Please visit my full, illustrated review at Italophile Book Reviews:

There are two books in this series so far:

1. Murder and Marinara

2. The Wedding Soup Murder (also reviewed at my Italophile Book Reviews site)


Murder Under the Italian Moon and Death Under the Venice Moon - The Lella York Mysteries by Maria Grazia Swan

The Lella York Mysteries series is an entertaining cozy mystery series featuring the Italian transplanted to California Lella York.  She is a woman of a certain age, volatile, emotional, unpredictable, and always getting herself into difficulties with the law. 

One lawman becomes special to her heart and their relationship becomes one of the many bright spots in this inventive series.

Please read my full, illustrated review of Murder Under the Italian Moon at my Italophile Book Reviews site.

Please read the full, illustrated review of Death Under the Venice Moon at Italophile Book Reviews.



Series Translated from Italian

(not all the books have been translated yet)



Andrea Camilleri and his Commissario Montalbano

Andrea Camilleri is Italy's most famous writer of gialli.  Before he wrote them, he produced them for television, making the acclaimed Maigret series.  

But it's for his Commissario Montalbano that he's most famous.  The books are written in Italian and available in translation in various languages.

Montalbano works in Sicily, and when he's not solving crimes and arresting bad guys, he's enjoying the beaches, good wine, great food, and quirky inhabitants of the ancient island.  There is also his girlfriend, Livia, who is treated rather shabbily throughout the series, as are pretty much all the female partners, actually.

The books in the series are:

  • The Shape of Water  (La forma dell’acqua)
  • The Terracotta Dog - (Il cane di terracotta)
  • The Snack Thief (Il ladro di merendine)
  • The Voice of the Violin  (La voce del violino)
  • Excursion to Tindari  (La gita a Tindari)
  • The Scent of the Night  (L’odore della notte)
  • Rounding the Mark  (Il giro di boa)
  • The Patience of the Spider (La pazienza del ragno)
  • The Paper Moon  (La Luna di Carta)
  • August Heat  (La Vampa d'Agosto)
  • The Wings of the Sphinx  (Le Ali della Sfinge)
  • The Track of Sand (La pista di Sabbia)
  • The Potter's Field  (Il campo del vasaio)
  • L'età del dubbio
  • Le prime indagini
  • La danza del gabbiano

My list of this author's books at

The series has been filmed for Italian television and is available on DVD.  Be prepared for beautiful location filming, some incomprehensible language, and lots of macho men who lie far too easily to their women, who are generally-speaking not treated with much respect.

Camilleri website

Images from "Il Commissario Montalbano", an Italian series of film-length episodes based on Andrea Camillieri's police procedural novels, several of which have been translated into English.  The series stars Luca Zingaretti and is a huge hit in Italy and Germany (a German actress plays his long-suffering girlfriend).


The Montalbano series is filmed on location in Sicily which brings stunning locations to the police-dramas.  And they score it with Sicilian music for added flavor.

Dear to Montalbano's heart is eating, especially at his favorite restaurant with his favorite chef.  He's known to lie to colleagues and girlfriend about his whereabouts to conceal his preference for eating over their company.

Here are some clips via YouTube.

Sicily has beautiful palaces, some of which feature in the location-shot series.  Here is one, but you can find others on my Palaces of Sicily page.

 Visit my Italophile Book Reviews page for this series.





Michele Guittari's Michele Ferrara

Michele Ferrara is Chief Superintendent of Florence's elite Squadra Mobile.  He tackles the most difficult cases and sticks with them until all the nasty facts come to light.

The author, Michele Guittari, is a retired Italian State Police Commissioner.  His fictional character of Michele Ferrara clearly walks in the author's footsteps, bringing a verisimilitude to the books that other police procedural series may lack.

These are the books in the series so far, each translated from the original Italian:

  • A Florentine Death
  • A Death in Tuscany
  • A Death in Calabria
  • The Death of a Mafia Don
  • The Black Rose of Florence


Author's Website



A Florentine Death by Michele Guittari 

If you are a Florence fan, and who isn't, you will enjoy the specific streets and buildings that are mentioned throughout A Florentine Death.  There is a very strong sense of place in the book. 

Depictions of the Italian character are exceptionally strong in the book since it is written by an Italian about Italians, and originally written for an Italian audience.  

The details about the police investigations are accurate, thanks to the author being a former head of Florence's Squadra Mobile

The writing style is very traditional, with separate strands following the killer and the police, until the moment the two strands combine near the end of the book.  Be forewarned that some readers might not enjoy the slow style of this classic police procedural. 

The narration is in the third-person-limited, usually from Ferrara's mindset.  However, like the English author David Hewson, whose style I think is similar to Guittari's, we are put into the mind of the very sick killer, too.  We are also treated to sex scenes, usually disturbing sex scenes, also similar to David Hewson's books. 

Negatives about A Florentine Death are not really negative, but observations about things I did not particularly enjoy.  First, I felt that the story was very male dominated, with the female characters shallowly or stereotypically drawn and suffocated in a macho society.  Second, the plot centers around homosexuality, which in Italian society seems quite behind-the-times compared to my understanding and upbringing. 

Please read my full review at Italophile Book Reviews.


Massimo Carlotto / Marco "Alligator" Buratti

Marco "Alligator is a Private Investigator with an ex-con and blues singer past.  True to his roots, his cases are rough, seamy and full of hidden Italy.  His home base is Venice.

From the Book's Description of The Master of Knots:

"Alligator—ex-convict turned private detective—finds himself pulled into a disturbing case involving an Italy known to few.  Helena and Mariano Giraldi lead a secret double life in Italy's clandestine S&M scene. When Helena is abducted, her husband approaches Alligator for help. But Mariano seems more worried about losing his reputation than seeing his wife again.

'As Alligator investigates, he uncovers a world in which brutality, treachery, and passion go hand in hand. Behind Helena's abduction is a shadowy figure known as The Master of Knots—who proves to be as powerful as he is psychotic. As more members of the S&M underground disappear, Alligator races desperately against time to find his true identity."

Books in the Alligator Series (not all have been translated yet):

  • La verita dell'Alligatore
  • Il mistero di Mangiabarche
  • Nessuna cortesia all'uscita
  • Il corriere colombiano  (The Colombian Mule)
  • Il maestro di nodi  (The Master of Knots)
  • Dimmi che non vuoi morire
  • L'amore del bandito  (Bandit Love)


Author's Website



Bandit Love by Massimo Carlotto 

Bandit Love is book three in The Alligator Series, a series of noir crime novels for adults featuring Marco "The Alligator" Buratti, an ex-con turned unofficial private detective.  The books are translated from the original Italian.  Bandit Love features every seedy character one can imagine from the underbelly of society.  I felt I needed a shower after reading this book, to wash off the filth. 

Set in northeast Italy, with Marco The Alligator based in Padova (Padua), the reader is treated to a ringside seat as Eastern European gangsters fight it out for territory and influence in Italy.  The Italian gangsters look like amateurs by comparison. 

The first person account by Marco The Alligator is written long after the fact, describing an adventure that changed his life, and the lives of his two partners in crime and business:  fellow ex-cons Max the Memory and Old Rossini.  The narrative style is hard-boiled private investigator. 

The overall tone of Bandit Love is jaded, cynical, male humor, but the women in the novel are, surprisingly, both victims and victimizes, but most strikingly the victims of violence. 

There is a non-linear timeline that keeps the reader jumping, and there is lots of atmosphere from the criminal world, with gangsters of all sorts and types. 

The biggest problem I have with Bandit Love is that there is no ending.  There is no satisfying resolution to the "case".  Perhaps the author is setting up the next book in the series?  This book is only about 140 pages long.  I reads more like the first half of a complete book, the second half of which has not yet been released. 

Please read my full review at Italophile Book Reviews.



Carlo Lucarelli / Commissario De Luca and Inspector Grazia Negro

The De Luca trilogy is a historical crime trio about Commissario De Luca during the Fascist era through to the post WWII era.

Carte Blanche:  "April 1945, Italy. Commissario De Luca is heading up a dangerous investigation into the private lives of the rich and powerful during the frantic final days of the facist regime. The hierarchy has guaranteed De Luca their full cooperation, just so long as he arrests the "right" suspect. The house of cards built by Mussolini in the last months of WWII is collapsing and De Luca faces a world mired in sadistic sex, dirty money, drugs and murder."

The Damned Season: "It is 1946. De Luca suffers from insomnia and has lost his appetite. He's got problems with women and a case that he can't crack. In this second installment of the heralded De Luca trilogy, the Commissario is posing as a certain Giovanni Morandi to avoid reprisals for the role he played during the fascist dictatorship. Exposed by a member of the partisan police, De Luca is forced to investigate a series of brutal murders, becoming a reluctant player in Italy's postwar power struggle."

Via delle Oche: "It is 1948. Italy’s fate is soon to be decided in bitterly contested national elections. A man has been found dead in via delle Oche, at the center of Bologna’s notorious red light district. Commissario De Luca is unwilling to look the other way when evidence in the man’s death points to local politicians and members of the Bologna police force. The brutal worlds of crime and politics conspire once again, and in this third and final book in the De Luca trilogy, winner of both the Italian Mystery Award and the Scerbanenco Prize, violence, power, and sex combine to create an atmosphere that becomes more volatile as the trilogy reaches its shocking finale."

  • Carte Blanche
  • The Damned Season
  • Via delle Oche

Almost Blue:  "A serial killer is terrorising the students of Bologna. Rookie female detective Grazia Negro is determined to solve the case."


Author's Website



Valerio Varesi / Commissioner Soneri

"River of Shadows is the first of a series of thrillers featuring Commissario Soneri, now the central figure of one of Italy's most popular television dramas." ("Nebbie e delitti" or "Fog and crimes").  Soneri is said to be a bongustai, which is pretty much obligatory in Italy, no?

The books in the series of 14 Italian books that have been translated so far into English:

  • River of Shadows
  • Dark Valley
  • Gold, Frankincense and Dust

Author's Website



River of Shadows by Valerio Varesi 

River of Shadows is the first book in a police-procedural series set in the Po River Valley of Northern Italy, featuring the senior police officer Commissario Soneri.  The book is translated from the original Italian.  River of Shadows is slow-moving, atmospheric about the Po River area, and with an eye more in the past than in Italy's present-day. 

Third-person limited narration puts us in the head of Commissario Soneri, which is not necessarily a nice place to be.  He is a difficult character:  rude, uncommunicative, moody, selfish, fixated, irritable, brusque, and petty. 

Under the influence of that addictive irritability-inducing curiosity, Soneri pursues his case without a thought for anyone else.  Commissario Soneri's primary release is food and wine, so we are treated to all his menus. 

Commissario Soneri's secondary release is the most discordant feature of the book.  A cop-groupie woman has latched onto Soneri, his high rank in the police force a turn-on.  She uses him throughout River of Shadows to indulge her other big turn-on, having sex in crime scenes and in the homes of crime victims. 

Italy's past battles between Communists and Fascists plays a central role in the story of River of Shadows.   

While the ending of River of Shadows does have Commissario Soneri getting the killer, it is not a satisfying ending.  An epilogue would have added greatly to the sense of closure for this reader.  The ending, as it is, is too abrupt, without tying up loose ends, and without letting us now how the resolution of the case is treated by the media, and by Soneri's bosses, and the boatmen, all three of whom have become elements in the story. 

Please read my full review at Italophile Book Reviews.



Luigi Guicciardi / Inspector Cataldo

There are 11 books so far in Italian about Inspector Cataldo, but only the first one has been translated so far and it is called The Criminal Summer.  Cataldo is Sicilian but works in Modena.  A reviewer describes him thus:  "He's tall and blonde, although from Sicily, and does not speak dialect.  He never rushes an interview, waiting out the silences with patience. His fondness for surrealist art suggests an intellectual bent."

The Book Description:

"In a quiet holiday town in the Italian Apennines, during a torrid summer, a string of gruesome deaths stirs up trouble in the local community.  A suspected suicide, which Inspector Cataldo is called in to investigate, brings to the surface shady events belonging to the past, and a mysterious foreigner shakes up the delicate social balance of a group of friends who have a lot to hide."


Gianrico Carofiglio / Guido Guerrieri

There are 4 books in the lawyer Guido Guerrieri series so far.  Here is a description of how the first book begins: 

"At the beginning of the novel, Italian lawyer Guido Guerrieri splits from his wife and somewhat loses track of his life. He moves into a flat where he knows no one, drinks a bit, and generally doesn't take very good care of himself. Then he gets involved in a controversial trial. " 

The series is written by a lawyer, so there is much verisimilitude.

  • Involuntary Witness
  • A Walk in the Dark
  • Reasonable Doubts
  • Temporary Perfections



Involuntary Witness by Gianrico Carofiglio

Involuntary Witness is the first book in a series featuring Italian trial lawyer Guido Guerrieri, who lives in Bari, Italy.  The book is a translation from the original Italian into British English, at least my copy of the book was in British English. 

The author, Gianrico Carofiglio, is a former Italian judge, so the legal aspects of his novels are very accurate, and are interesting in their own right due to the complexity of the Italian Justice System, which the author explains clearly for the reader. 

The book has a first-person narration by the protagonist, forty-year-old civil and criminal trial lawyer Guido Guerrieri, who recounts the events that make up his mid-life crisis, including the lost-cause court case that contributes to his redemptive recovery. 

The author has filled his protagonist with a wicked sense of humor, which makes the book very entertaining.  Dialog is often embedded in the narration, reminiscent of J.D. Salinger's Holden Caulfield from The Catcher in the Rye.   

If you have read any John Grisham novels, you might recognize the pattern of the down-and-out lawyer wracked by self-loathing who redeems himself by winning an impossible case for a just cause.   

Are you a Nick Hornby fan, author of the novels High Fidelity and About a Boy?  If you are, you might recognize the spoiled, self-indulgent man-boy protagonist who suffers a crisis that pushes him to mature out of his prolonged puberty into full manhood.   

Did I enjoy reading Involuntary Witness?  Yes, I did, mainly because of the Italian cultural setting and because of the humor in the book.  I had a few reservations which are explained in my full review. 

Read my full review at Italophile Book Reviews.



Marco Vichi / Commissario Bordelli

This series is a series with an identity crisis: they are psychological novels dressed up as police procedurals but marketed as cozy mysteries.  Please read my see my full and illustrated review of the first book in this series on my Italophile Book Reviews site.

From the first book's description: 

"Florence, summer 1963. Inspector Bordelli is one of the few policemen left in the deserted city. He spends his days on routine work, and his nights tormented by the heat and mosquitoes.  Suddenly one night, a telephone call gives him a new sense of purpose: the suspected death of a wealthy Signora.

"Bordelli rushes to her hilltop villa, and picks the locks. The old woman is lying on her bed - apparently killed by an asthma attack, though her medicine has been left untouched. With the help of his young protege, the victim's eccentric brother, and a semi-retired petty thief, the inspector begins a murder investigation."

These are the books in the series so far:

  • Death in August
  • Death and the Olive Grove
  • Death in Sardinia
  • Death in Florence


Author's Website



A Cozy Giallo by Candida Martinelli


An Extra Virgin Pressing Murder by Candida Martinelli

Candida has written a traditional country-house cozy-murder-mystery with lovely Tuscan sights, hunky Italian love interests, mysteries, laughs and tugs on the heartstrings. 

It is in the style of Ngaio Marsh and Dorothy L. Sayers mystery novels, a light touch with little gore or violence, lots of suspect characters and a bit of romance.

Julie gladly leaves her retirement home to attend a protégée’s wedding in Tuscany. But when someone is murdered at her welcome party, and the chief suspect is the Italian fiancé, Julie finagles her way into working with the local Marshal to discover the truth.

The reader follows Julie along her not-always-smooth path to discover all she can about the possible suspects and motives for the murder. There is some danger for Julie, and for the others involved in the case. The resolution brings clarity and relief, as well as a new beginning for Julie, in Italy.

To read Part I (of 8 Parts) which is 6 Chapters (of 40 Chapters), visit the book's page on this website or at the book's website. for paperback (11.99$) and large-type paperback (14.99$) and mobi-Kindle (3.99$ in U.S.)

CreateSpace for paperback (9.99$ with code AHY2J7GU) and large-type paperback (12.99$ with code AHY2J7GU)



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Also see my pages:

Italian Bestselling Writers

Historical Fiction set in Italy

Mysteries set in Ancient Rome

Non-fiction books about Italy

Romances set in Italy

Thrillers Set in Italy

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This link goes to the Kindle page for Italy Mysteries.

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There is a website dedicated to mysteries set in Italy.  It is not the easiest site to navigate.  But it has some nice interviews with the authors.