Thursday, January 30, 2014

Death of an Englishman by Magdalen Nabb

British expatriate Magdalen Nabb wrote a police procedural series set in her adopted hometown, Florence, Italy, featuring Marshal Guarnaccia of the Carabinieri.  Death of an Englishman is the first book in the series that is called The Florentine Mystery Series.

Marshal Guarnaccia is modest and unambitious, yet he nevertheless succeeds in resolving very difficult cases throughout this entertaining series.  Guarnaccia uses plodding police work, helped by moments of inspiration.  He is foremost, however, a policeman who is tempered in all things by his deep compassion. 

I've read the first book in this series and The Marshal's Own Case, and I enjoyed both of them very much.  At times I wanted to shake the Marshal to snap him out of his reveries, but then when he did come to life, it was well worth the wait.  The omniscient narrative style lets us get into everyone's head, which is a refreshingly traditional approach to this genre, where we are so often stuck in one character's head through the whole story, either as a 1st person narration or a 3rd person limited narration.  What comes across from the book most strongly is the protagonist's profound decency, which is also refreshing!

From the book's description:
It is just before Christmas and the marshal wants to go South to spend the holiday with his wife and family, but first he must recover from the flu (which has left the Florentine caribinieri short-handed) and also solve a murder. A seemingly respectable retired Englishman, living in a flat on the Via Maggio near the Santa Trinita bridge, was shot in the back during the night. He was well-connected and Scotland Yard has dispatched two officers to "assist" the Italians in solving the crime. But it is the marshal, a quiet observer, not an intellectual, who manages to figure out what happened, and why.

All the books in the series:
  1. Death of an Englishman
  2. Death of a Dutchman
  3. Death in Springtime
  4. Death in Autumn
  5. The Marshal and the Murderer
  6. The Marshal and the Madwoman
  7. The Marshal's Own Case
  8. The Marshal Makes His Report
  9. The Marshal at the Villa Torrini
  10. The Monster of Florence
  11. Property of Blood
  12. Some Bitter Taste
  13. The Innocent
  14. Vita Nuova

Many, but not all, of these books are available in various formats including paperback, e-book, and audio-book.  Here are the versions of Death of an Englishman at

Please visit the author's website.

This review is by Candida Martinelli, of Candida Martinelli's Italophile Site, and the author of the cozy-murder-mystery novel AN EXTRA VIRGIN PRESSING MURDER, and the young-adult/adult mystery novel series THE VIOLET STRANGE MYSTERIES the first book of which is VIOLET'S PROBLEM.

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