“Artfully understated. . . . [An] elegant series.”—The New York Times Book Review
“The richest mystery here, however, is Florence itself, whose intricate politics and class structure Nabb parses with precision and wit. . . . Nabb is sweetly droll.”—The Washington Post Book World
“[Nabb] writes in graceful, calm prose.”—The Associated Press
“Lovely measured language. . . . Offers such pleasures as great local atmosphere and rich characterizations.”—Publishers Weekly
“Lean, elegant prose that surpasses the best of Simenon.”—Kirkus Reviews
“[A] superb series.”—Booklist
“Guarnaccia’s Florence is a delightful place to visit.”—Mystery Scene
The body of a woman has been found half-submerged in an ornamental fish pond high up in Florence’s Boboli Gardens. At first, the woman cannot be identified; only her skull remains. The marshal must use her clothing and a shoe to trace her.
She turns out to be a young Japanese woman apprenticed to one of Florence’s legendary custom shoemakers, crotchety old Peruzzi. Could he have killed his protégé? Or did jealousy drive his other apprentice to murder? The neighbors have seen Akiko with a lover—a brilliant young Carabinieri—who has disappeared. Has he fled to avoid arrest?
The marshal must go to Rome to complete his investigation. When he returns to Florence he can identify the killer, but can he bring him to justice?
Last seen in Nabb's Some Bitter Taste (2002), Marshal Salvatore Guarnaccia is an unusual protagonist for a crime novel: he's neither a Bond-like sophisticate nor a recovering loser; a Sicilian living in Florence, he's neither on his own turf nor in a strange land. A modest family man, a quiet and calm observer-but no macho silence, mind you-he makes his way in a town he's come to know. In lovely measured language, the author unfolds the story of a woman's body found in a pond in the Boboli Gardens. The victim is unrecognizable, so it's some time before Guarnaccia, calling on an intriguing assortment of artisans and others in his neighborhood, discovers that she's Akiko, a young Japanese apprentice to the shoemaker Peruzzi. Guarnaccia digs for answers, but when he finally identifies Akiko's mysterious lover, the chief suspect in her death, the marshal for once regrets knowing the truth. While this, the 13th Marshal Guarnaccia investigation, may be short on action (even admirers of Nabb's style may find an extended dream sequence a bit too long), it offers such pleasures as great local atmosphere and rich characterizations. Agent, Diogenes Verlag (Switzerland). (Oct.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
A perfect Tuscan day is ruined when a body surfaces in Florence's Boboli Gardens. The victim has been submerged in the pond so long that she's unrecognizable. Attempting to identify her, Marshal Salvatore Guarnaccia (Some Bitter Taste, 2002, etc.) takes the distinctive handmade shoe she was wearing to Peruzzi's specialty workshop, hoping the craftsman will recognize it. His Japanese apprentice Issino pales but denies all knowledge of it. Guarnaccia, however, is not put off, and soon identifies the shoe as the handiwork of Akiko, Peruzzi's handpicked successor, who simply walked off one day. What fatal steps led the victim to her watery grave? Guarnaccia finds his search shorthanded when one of his carabinieri, the depressed Lorenzo Esposito, takes leave to visit his ailing mother, a ruse that culminates in his suicide. Determining the real cause of his unhappiness and Akiko's tears the day she left leads Guarnaccia to an ill-fated love and, even worse, a vile explosion of jealousy from a third party that shatters all Peruzzi's dreams. Lean, elegant prose that surpasses the best of Simenon, along with a puckish view of the Florentines, from Guarnaccia's Sicilian perspective.