Cold Tuscan Stone: A Rick Montoya Italian Mysteryby David Wagner
Rick Montoya has just moved from Santa Fe to Rome, embracing the life of a translator. He’s beginning to embrace la dolce vita when school friend Beppo, now senior in the Italian Art Squad, recruits Rick for an unofficial undercover role. Armed with a list of galleries, suspects, and an expense account, Rick would arrive in Tuscany posing as a buyer for a
Rick Montoya has just moved from Santa Fe to Rome, embracing the life of a translator. He’s beginning to embrace la dolce vita when school friend Beppo, now senior in the Italian Art Squad, recruits Rick for an unofficial undercover role. Armed with a list of galleries, suspects, and an expense account, Rick would arrive in Tuscany posing as a buyer for a Santa Fe gallery and flush out traffickers in priceless burial urns.
But, before sunset on his first day in Volterra, the challenge intensifies. Rick has one quick conversation with a gallery employee who dies minutes later in a brutal fall from a high cliff. Has the trade in fraudulent artifacts upgraded to murder? Are the traffickers already on to Rick?
The local Commissario and his team consider Rick an amateur, and worse, a foreigner. Plus Rick is a suspect in what proves to be the dead man’s murder. While the Volterra squad pursues its leads, Rick and the Volterra museum director continue to interview his list: a top gallery owner, a low-profile import/export businessman and his enterprising color-coordinated assistant, a sensuous heiress with a private art specialty and clientele. When Rick’s lover Erica, an art history professor, arrives from Rome to visit him, she rekindles a friendship with an alluring, maybe dangerous, heiress. Has Rick’s role made him the target of both cops and criminals?
“David P. Wagner gives us a compelling new character in a setting so romantic and redolent of history it pulls us in immediately and holds us until the surprising ending…. This is a wonderful start to a series, which should have immediate legs, and surely will thrill everyone who has lived in Italy, been to Italy, or would like to visit. As a boy I lived in both Firenze and Napoli, and reading Wagner takes me back deeply and instantly.”--Joseph Heywood, Author of The Woods Cop Mystery Series, The Snowfly and The Berkut.
""If you are interested in Italian art and artifacts, Italian history and culture, Italian food and wine, or even just good storytelling, then COLD TUSCAN STONE -- the first in what will hopefully become a series of Rick Montoya Italian mysteries -- will be right up your cobblestone alleyway. Set in the ancient Tuscan town of Volterra, David P. Wagner's atmospheric debut novel delivers all of the above and more... Simply put, this exciting, intriguing, well-written mystery extends an offer no reader should refuse. Capiche?""— Amanda Matetsky, author of The Paige Turner Mysteries
""The first in a new series, this should appeal to fans of Jonathan Gash’s Lovejoy novels and Iain Pears’ Italy-set art-theft series starring Jonathan Argyll and Flavio diStefano.""—Booklist
""Wagner hits all the right notes in this debut. His likable protagonist engages, plus the Italian angle is always appealing. Perfect for readers who enjoy a complex puzzle, a bit of humor, and a fairly gentle procedural. Don’t miss this one.""—Library Journal starred review
""The intriguing art milieu, mouthwatering cuisine, and the team of the ironic Conti and the bemused but agile Montoya are bound to attract fans""—Publishers Weekly
An American translator finds danger and excitement helping a Roman friend crack a ring of art thieves. Although he grew up in Rome, his mother's home, Rick Montoya has always felt more American than Italian. So Beppo Rinaldi, one of the few full-blooded Romans to attend the American Overseas School of Rome, thinks Rick would be the perfect guy to help him find out who's stealing Etruscan burial urns from the graves around Volterra and smuggling them to discreet private collectors around the world. Rick came to Rome about six months ago from New Mexico, his father's home, to work as a translator. Beppo, who works for the art squad of the Italian Ministry of Culture, wants Rick to pose as a buyer for a New Mexico art gallery looking for handcrafted items to supplement its stock of Navajo artifacts. Rick is happy to spend some time in the ancient Tuscan hill town. He quickly makes contact with the three suspects on Beppo's list: gallery owner Antonio Landi, importer-exporter Rino Polpetto and private art dealer Donatella Minotti, a college friend of Rick's girlfriend, Erica. A quick tour of the local museum led by curator Arnolfo Zerbino gives Rick enough background in Etruscan art to make his cover story credible. But his investigation quickly hits a snag when local police discover that Rick was the last person to see Landi's employee Orlando Canopo before the unfortunate workman plunged to his death. Commissario Carlo Conti of the Volterra Police has little patience for the art squad and even less for Rick, who may have signed up for a more difficult lesson in Italian police culture than he bargained for. Like the Etruscan urns he seeks, Rick's debut is well-proportioned and nicely crafted.
Meet the Author
David Wagner, a retired Foreign Service Officer, spent nine years in Milan and Rome during his career, and now writes tourist materials about Italy. He earned his BA in English from Michigan State University, served in the Peace Corps in Chile, and taught high school English before entering the diplomatic service. He lives in New Mexico with his wife and their four cats.
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Throughly enjoyable read. The writer has agreat way with words. He lets you visualize the locale and characters with his discriptions. No sexual narratives or bloody and gory addons, yet it was hard to put down as the flow of the story keeps your attention.
American Rick Montoya has moved to Italy, his mother's birthplace, to make his way as a translator. But what should be a cut and dried career move, takes on sinister overtones when he is recruited by the Italian Art Squad for an undercover assignment in Volterra to look for Etruscan forgeries and antiquities smugglers. Bodies pile up in the medieval town, and no one is to be trusted. This mystery is fast paced, filled with fascinating detail, and features a setting to send any reader in search of a good travel agent. A fine read and a great introduction to a new series.
Steady but not thrilling, this adventure into the criminal art world takes in Tuscany, one of my favourite places in Italy. Translator Rick Montoya works undercover to lure out the criminals stealing precious artefacts of Tuscan history. Working with the local police chief it starts to get nasty. Who is the mastermind behind the stealing and how will it end? Good questions and you are kept guessing until the end. Worth reading but not high priority.