Every year about this time I begin thinking about reading a few 'beach books'. These aren't books that I would necessarily read at the beach, because where I live there is no beach (or ocean or major body of water for that matter). Rather these are books that have seaside settings. If I can't go there I can at least read about being there, right? This year, though, I think my summer destination is going to be a little different. I was noticing that my library book stack has an inordinate number of books that are mysteries or crime stories that are set in Italy. And I happen to be reading Andrea Camilleri's The Shape of Water which is set in Sicily, so I guess I've unofficially kicked off something resembling a summer reading project. I'll start in Sicily and make my way up the boot all the way to Venice.
After Sicily I can hop on over to a coastal resort in Southern Italy where Gianrico Carofiglio's Involuntary Witness is set. I first heard about this book via Caroline. This is actually a courtroom drama. "A powerful attack on racism, and a fascinating insight into the Italian judicial process, it is also an affectionate portrait of a deeply humane hero."
Heading up the coast to Naples I'll meet Captain Natalia Monte in Jan Marete Weiss's These Dark Things working on her first case (well, this is a first book anyway). A young college student there has been found murdered in the catacombs beneath a monastery. While I've read very mixed reactions to this book it sounds like a promising start and Weiss appears to be very adept at creating a convincing setting.
Next is Rome with a fittingly titled The Dogs of Rome by Conor Fitzgerald. Commissario Alec Blume sounds interesting--an American expatriate who's lived in Rome for twenty-two years might have an interesting perspective on life and the criminal world in Italy.
The Last Enemy by Grace Brophy takes place in Assissi in Umbria, which I hear is somewhat off the beaten path as far as crime stories go. Here Commissario Alessandro Cenni looks into the death of an American woman--the niece of a wealthy aristocratic family with skeletons in their closet.
There's lots to choose from in Tuscany, however. Niccolo Ammaniti's I'm Not Scared is set in the Tuscan countryside, which is told from the point of view of a nine-year-old boy who discovers the body of a child in an abandoned house. Both Death of an Englishman by Magdalen Nabb and Time of Mourning by Christobel Kent are set in Florence. Marshal Guarnaccia is Nabb's sleuth who has the aid of Scotland Yard in the investigation of a respected Englishman. Nabb's books are mostly from the 1980s but Christobel Kent's Sandro Cellini is a PI working in contemporary Florence.
I like the sound of Carlo Lucarelli's sleuth in Almost Blue. Grazia Negro is a hip, young female detective who works with a special unit tracking down serial killers. Apparently there is one on the loose in Bologna!
Finally it's up to Venice to revisit Donna Leon's Inspector Guido Brunetti. I think I left off at A Noble Radiance, but I might have to shuffle through my notebook to make sure. "Providing insight into Venetian society through the lens of a gripping intellectual mystery, this atmospheric tale from Donna Leon finds Inspector Guido Brunetti investigating an aristocratic family with a shady past." I like Brunetti and his family and am looking forward to getting back to his Venice.
I'd like to read all of these, but we'll see how it goes. It would be fun to compare and contrast the books and there seems to be no end to choices. Have I missed any particularly good Italian crime novels or mysteries? I'll be finishing with Inspector Montalbano soon I suspect and then onwards towards the tip of Italy with Carofiglio.