In Death in a Strange CountryCommissario Guido Brunetti confronts a grisly sight when the body of a young American is fished out of a fetid Venetian canal. Though all the signs point to a violent mugging, something incriminating turns up in the victim's apartment that suggests the existence of a high level conspiracy--and Brunetti becomes convinced that somebody is taking great pains to provide a ready-made solution to the crime.
"...Michael Dibdin, who, in Dead Lagoon, gives us a deliciously creepy new novel featuring the urbane and skeptical Aurelio Zen, a detective whose unenviable task it is to combat crime in a country where today's superiors may be tomorrow's defendants.
"Zen returns to his native Venice. He is searching for the ghostly tormentors of a half-demented contessa and a vanished American millionaire whose family is paying Zen under the table to determine his whereabouts--dead or alive. But he keeps stumbling over corpses that are distressingly concrete: from the crooked cop found drowned in one of the city's noisome 'black wells' to a brand-new skeleton that surfaces on the Isle of the Dead. The result is a mystery rich in character and deduction, and intensely informed about the history, politics, and manners of its Venetian setting."
When a colleague extends his summer vacation, Inspector Salvo Montalbano is forced to stay in Vigata and endure the August heat. Montalbano's long-suffering girlfriend, Livia, joins him with a friend-husband and young son in tow-to keep her company during these dog days of summer. But when the boy suddenly disappears into a narrow shaft hidden under the family's beach rental, Montalbano, in pursuit of the child, uncovers something terribly sinister. As the inspector spends the summer trying to solve this perplexing case, Livia refuses to answer his calls--and Montalbano is left to take a plunge that will affect the rest of his life.
This delicious debut novel is set in Sicily, and centers around Rosa Fiore, a middle-aged librarian who has resigned herself to a loveless life. She expresses her passion
through cooking, which leads to an unexpected love affair.
"Alessandra Cecchi is not quite fifteen when her father, a prosperous cloth merchant, brings a young painter back from northern Europe to decorate the chapel walls in the family's Florentine palazzo. A child of the Renaissance, with a precocious mind and a talent for drawing, Alessandra is intoxicated by the painter's abilities. But their burgeoning relationship is interrupted when Alessandra's parents arrange her marriage to a wealthy, much older man.
"Meanwhile, Florence is changing, increasingly subject to the growing suppression imposed by the fundamentalist monk Savonarola, who is seizing religious and political control. Alessandra and her native city are caught between the Medici state, with its love of luxury, learning, and dazzling art, and the hellfire preaching and increasing violence of Savonarola's reactionary followers."
"On May 2, 1519 at the Clos Luce in Amboise, Leonardo is dying. He no longer cares about art or science. He wants only to answer a simple question about his life: why did he abandon his colossal equestrian statue in Milan? Meanwhile, R-, a 20th century historian writing a novel about Leonardo, meditates upon the same question in the midst of an apocalyptic traffic jam, as military helicopters fill the air with tear gas, AIDS demonstrators run amok, and a hospital evacuates its patients onto a nearby sidewalk."
The discount travel package to Italy seemed like a great deal: Emily Andrew could lead her globe-trotting Iowans on the trip of a lifetime and bring her family to boot. Maybe she should have read the fine print....Sharing their itinerary with a group of hyper-competitive aspiring romance writers is just a prelude to more Machiavellian drama than an Italian opera.