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by Michele Giuttari, Howard Curtis, translator
Abacus, June 2008
381 pages
10.99 GBP
ISBN: 0349120072

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

A DEATH IN TUSCANY is Michele Giuttari's second novel, making its way to English shores only in 2008, in spite of having been published in Giuttari's native Italy in 2005. Once again, it stars Chief Superintendent Michele Ferrara, head of the Squadra Mobile in Florence. The body of a girl is discovered in a small Tuscan hill town, but the police investigation is going nowhere. Ferrara takes over the case and soon reaches the conclusion that the girl was murdered. As he delves deeper, he finds a powerful conspiracy with links to another case one that is hitting extremely close to home.

Once again, Giuttari has written an excellent novel and Howard Curtis, the translator, merits high praise for producing a version that reads extremely well in English. The plot is more intricate than that of the previous novel, A FLORENTINE DEATH, and while the fact that everything ties together so well does stretch the bounds of credulity somewhat, this is an extremely minor comment that in no way detracts from the quality of the novel overall.

The reader learns much more about Ferrara and his life, with the author giving his wife a much more prominent role. Interestingly, Giuttari also steps back from Ferrara at times, allowing the story to be told from the perspectives of some of the other police officers. This does give the reader some breathing space, as it has to be said that the author does tend to put Ferrara on a pedestal as a paragon of virtue. Of course, Ferrara is no doubt modelled on Giuttari himself, given that Giuttari is the former head of the Florence police force responsible for investigating serial offences and, in that role, was someone who built a significant name for himself. Unlike Tempe Brennan representing Kathy Reichs in her series, Ferrara has very few faults and one cannot help but wonder if there is not a degree of self-congratulation in the portrayal.

Overall, A DEATH IN TUSCANY is an extremely enjoyable novel and makes a refreshing change from thrillers and detective stories set in the United States or the United Kingdom. We need more translations from Europe and, if they can be translated by Howard Curtis, so much the better!

Reviewed by Luke Croll, June 2008

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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