Italy in Books - A Death in Tuscany by Michele Giuttari

One of the most rewarding aspects of writing a blog is forming relationships with fellow bloggers and tweeters with similar interests. Thanks to one of these relationships, with LindyLouMac, I have the pleasure of reviewing a book I wouldn't normally choose to read, a crime thriller. This review is my November entry for the 'Italy in Books' challenge. Click this link for the other November reviews.

A Death in Tuscany, by Michele Giuttari, is a relatively fast-paced crime thriller that follows the head of Florence's elite Squadra Mobile as he tackles an ever-evolving case that starts with the discovery of a young girl's body and leads to him fearing for his career, friends, and his own life. The young girl is suspected of dying of a drug overdose, of being a 'druggie' and the case is quickly filed away, both at the police station and the local hospital. However, Michele Ferrara, the police chief, feels that something isn't right. Partly the speed with which the doctors are quick to judge the girl, compounded by their ideas that she could be an immigrant and therefore even less trouble to deal with, and partly the fact that the girl is "little more than a child", leads Michele to start to investigate further, drawing unwanted attention from various nefarious powers and dragging him deeper into a world far beyond his powers. It sounds a little far-fetched when I write it like that, but the story moves along at a good pace and is sadly quite believable. I found the book easy to read and interesting enough to pick-up every night. The story itself isn't too complex, but there were enough twists and turns to keep this admittedly novice crime thriller reader happy.

The author is a former head of the Florence police force, and this certainly helps give some authenticity and weight to the story. However, at times the plot seemed to be a bit too convoluted and formulaic. One could guarantee that at some point, some mafia or secret society would be involved (yes), that his peers and superiors would disown him (infatti), but that, through it all, his natural superiority and intellect ensures he prevails against all adversity (predictably). In short, while I enjoyed the start of the book, as it wore on, and layer upon layer of cliched Hollywood movie-style faux-complexity is heaped upon the reader's sagging shoulders, I found myself having to suspend belief and simply roll with it as it turned from a detailed crime thriller into a crime joyride. Having said that, there's nothing wrong with a crime thriller taking liberties with the plot and plausibility (just ask Dan Brown) and I still enjoyed the ride.

Overall then, I enjoyed it. While not being my usual type of book, and while I'm sure there are far better examples of Italian crime novels, for example the Montalbano series by Andrea Camilleri or Romanzo Criminale by Giancarlo de Cataldo, I can recommend A Death in Tuscany as a quick read for someone who's happy to suspend belief a few times and go with the flow. It's enjoyable, if a little too 'Hollywood' at times.

A Death in Tuscany by Michele Giuttari is published by Abacus and is available in all good bookshops or can be bought from Amazon (through the LazioExplorer store).

Incidentally, if you'd like a different perspective, check out this review from LindyLouMac.

Finally, to continue in the spirit of Bookcrossing, started by Lindyloumac, I'm happy to post this book to someone if they would like to read it, just let me know, first come first served :-)


  1. I like your review and I am so glad you found it worth reading Pete, thanks for the links to me. :)

    I am just putting the finishing touches to my November review, just in time!

  2. Great review! It's been my experience that many thrillers have that Hollywoodian touch that remove the human element. Characters can do anything and remain unscathed. But then again, it is fiction!

  3. Thanks for your comments guys!