The Innocent – Magdalen Nabb

Guarnaccia and his team are investigating a body discovered in one of the lakes in the Boboli Gardens, which turns out to be that of a young Japanese woman apprenticed to one of the city’s artisan shoemakers.

Lots of glimpses of Florentine life beyond the tourist trail, and food – Marshal Guarnaccia always feels like the Florentine Carabinieri version of Donna Leon’s Commissario Brunetti of Venice. Perhaps it’s because I find it harder to track down the Guarnaccia series in second hand bookshops and the library.

Author’s webpage: The Innocent – Magdalen Nabb

Vita Nuova – Magdalen Nabb

Marshal Guarnaccia is spending August unhappily alone in Florence, his family down south in Sicily looking after his sick sister.

Called upon to investigate the murder of Daniela Paoletti, a young woman from a nouveau riche family, in her bedroom at the family villa up in the hills, Guarnaccia finds himself bemused by the strange behaviour of her alcoholic mother, hysterical sister and the Eastern European domestic servants.

A tip off from a local reporter points him in the direction of the hospitalised pater familias, who – it turns out – not only controls his family with an iron first but also a people trafficking operation, a prostitution ring, a local strip club and high class brothel whose high class clientele could potentially bring an end to Guarnaccia’s career in the Carabinieri.

Sadly, Magdalen Nabb‘s last novel. Addio Salvatore. link: Vita Nuova – Magdalen Nabb

Death of an Englishman – Magdalen Nabb

A speedy read, on a lazy New Year’s Day, and so an appropriately festive time to read the first novel in the Marshal Guarnaccia series …. not that you’d be able to tell that from the list of other novels by Magdalen Nabb printed that the front of the book (unless they’re in reverse chronological order).

Strangely enough, the Marshall is laid low with flu for most of the novel, only coming to the fore to apply his common sense to solve the crime eluding his colleagues and two detectives from Scotland Yard: the murder of retired Englishman, Andrew Langley-Smythe – shot in the back in his ground floor (horrors!) apartment in Florence’s antique district.

The English detectives add to the plot’s a mix of English ex-pats – the vicar and his wife, endlessly offering (and yearning for) tastes of home, the eccentric Miss White and inhabitants of the English library in Florence. On the Italian side, the focus is on new Carabinieri Bacci, resplendent in his uniform but woefully inexperienced, and the other residents of Langley-Smythe’s building ….

Not the best in the series. link: Death of an Englishman – Magdalen Nabb

Some Bitter Taste – Magdalen Nabb

A rare encounter with Marshal Guarnaccia, largely due to there not being many of Magdalen Nabb’s novels on the shelves of the Barbican library. That’s a sorry state of affairs, as when I do find one of her books they are always thoroughly enjoyable. Set in Florence and similar in other ways to Donna Leon’s Brunetti series, as a member of the carabinieri Guarnaccia works for the other branch of Italian law and order and he is decidedly less sure of his powers of detection – but charmingly so.

In Some Bitter Taste, Marshal Guarnaccia’s natural copper’s instinct leads him to work out the connectin between the murder of a lonely spinster, a robbery at the palazzo of a wealthy English gent and dodgy dealings in Jewish-owned art during the Second World War.

Time to delve into the Barbican stack to find some more books by Magdalen Nabb…. link: Some Bitter Taste – Magdalen Nabb