Without meaning to I appear to be in the middle of an Italian splurge again. This seems to happen to me on a regular basis. I remember this happening to me a few years ago when I picked up a copy of the Shape of Water by Andrea Camilleri which featured an Inspector Montalbano and was set in Sicily. This was the first Montalbano book I read and, not sure why, but I did not immediately fall in love with them. This is what I said at the time:
"Inspector Montalbano is a lover of fine wine and food and there are copious descriptions of the food left for him by his housekeeper who appears to be a cook of supreme talent; he has a long distance relationship with a lady called Livia who he seems to be avoiding marrying and I am not totally sure if he is in any way likable or even interesting".
Well how wrong can you be? I read The Voice of the Violin after this one and then I was off and over the last three or four years have read all of the Camilleri books and eagerly await each one. There is a new one due very soon - The Track of Sand and this will not be bought for my Kindle. I have the entire series in proper book form and want to maintain them that way. I adore these books so much now I really find it hard to understand why I did not take to them at first. Ah, well got there in the end.
And then there was Donna Leon. I kept stumbling across articles about her in various magazines and thought I would give her books a whirl. After all, I thought, they are set in Venice, one of my most favourite places on earth, so that is a good start. The first one I picked off the shelf was Death at La Fenice. A murder story set at the opera in Venice - irresistible. The victim was an arrogant German conductor with a penchant for fast cars and young wives and if this character was not based on the late Herbert von Karajan then I shall eat my baton. Her hero Commissario Guido Brunetti is near the top of my list of gorgeous policemen and at first I compared him with Montelbano and the Sicilian came off worse. Now I adore them both and Montelbano has the advantage of not having a seemingly perfect wife whose persona is beginning to grate on me a tad.
In recent months I have discovered the Alec Blume novels set in Rome, as with other series I was fairly lukewarm about the first one, The Dogs of Rome, though I did enjoy it and the second, the Fatal touch, is more intricate and closely plotted and I now feel that these will stay on my list of Those to Watch out For.
And now another Italian detective has been brought to my attention. One Inspector Bordelli in a series of books by Marco Vichi. These are set in Florence and the first one been translated and published in this country, Death in August, and I have just started it. So far it looks promising and I will let you know how I get on. Not released until June but see there are a few reviews up already on Amazon so obviously some earlier reviewers were quick off the mark.
So I now have detective stories set in Rome, Venice, Sicily and Florence. I recently read a title by Grace Brophy set in Assisi which did not exactly overwhelm me so may not continue with hers, and I have Michael Dibdin's Zen books to read which I am rather saving up as a treat. I know I have to ration these as, sadly, the author is no longer with us so if I do my usual splurge and read them all then I am done for, no more will be arriving.
The only problem with reading books set in this country is that it reminds me just how much I love Italy and that it is some years since I was last there. I was in Florence about four years ago, Venice about ten and last saw Rome when I was a mini-skirted teenager and found my bum was pinched with monotonous regularity in the Piazzas of Rome.
Not sure that I will have that problem now somehow.........