When Rita Calabrese’s husband proposes a second honeymoon in Tuscany, the chef-reporter-amateur sleuth leaps at the opportunity. An opportunity for peace, quiet and relaxation beckons… but if you think that’s going to happen, what sort of book do you think you’re reading.
When Rita meets an Italian detective, she is persuaded to help him out, as the villa they are staying at is the venue for a wedding attended by the prime movers in Italian archaeology. The villa is the centre of an antiques trafficking ring. But before she can get to the bottom of that, the owner of the villa is found dead in an Etruscan tomb.
When she’s not distracted by learning the local cooking techniques, Rita finds herself hunting a killer when the villa is cut off by an earthquake. But can she do it without her husband finding out?
Well, there I was sourcing a cover image for Murder Under The Tuscan Sun for my last review and what do you know, I found another mystery novel published last year with exactly the same title. In case you weren’t aware, there is a book called “Under The Tuscan Sun” from 1996, which was made into a film in 2003, so both these books are riffing on that title. Odd that two books within a single year would both do it, but that’s coincidence for you. And if you don’t think that I’m the sort of idiot that would buy and read a book simply because it shares a title with my last read, you don’t know me very well, dear reader…
This is firmly in the cosy crime corner of the genre. Female protagonist with a distinctive job, recipes, cats (left at home)… this ticks every box apart from an unrequited love for the local sherrif.
It’s not at all bad if you like the genre. The murder happens a bit too late in the narrative for my tastes, but the descriptions of Tuscany are nice, and the bits where Rita finds herself cooking various Tuscan dishes don’t really seem out of place. And there’s one really nice bit between her and her husband.
Bonus points too for Rita actually solving the case before the murderer tries to kill her, although it’s surprisingly simple to do so. It’s not really a clue as to whodunit, more a blindingly obvious statement that the reader might disregard in a “surely it’s not that obvious” way. There are a few strands to the solution too, making it more complex than some in the genre that I’ve read.
All in all, it’s a good cosy, but a cosy all the same. It may not be as literary as the other Murder Under The Tuscan Sun, but it’s certainly a bit more fun.
When I was in America I visited a Barnes & Noble and there were shelves and shelves and shelves of this stuff. Plus I found many more in the airport. They love cosies.
Glad this was a bit more fun. Saw the Diane Lane film version of UNDER THE TUSCAN SUN and as she can do no wrong, it was quite nice. But maybe time to pick another patch of Italy to write about 😁