Shadows on the Lake

A Stefania Valenti Mystery, #1

“Shadows on the Lake” by Giovanni Cocco and Amneris Magella- Translated by Stephen Sartarelli

“Shadows on the Lake” is an absorbing mystery steeped in atmosphere and tragic history, against a backdrop of beautiful Italian scenery.

Inspector Stephania Valenti is pulled into a puzzling case in which the remains of a man were found in the rumble of the once opulent 'Villa Regina', now owned by the powerful Cappelletti family.

The victim, a German soldier during world war two, is believed to have been sealed in for approximately sixty years, and is undoubtedly a murder victim.

Can Stephania discover who killed the man and the motive for his murder after all these years?

The incredible description of the Italian landscape in Northern Italy by Lake Como on the Swiss border, is absolutely stunning and adds such a strong atmospheric quality to the story.

The investigation takes place in present day, but as the story unfolds, Stephania’s inquiries will take the reader on a journey into the past, highlighting the tensions of the war and the desperation to escape over the border into Switzerland, a setup that will ultimately lead to murder.

I really liked Stephania and her precocious daughter, her relationship with the secondary characters, and how she handles the mild political angles she must address. I admired her dogged determination, her refusal to turn loose until all the loose ends were tied up, despite the pressure she was under.

The mystery is quite compelling and evolves into a riveting tale of suspense, while revealing an interesting family history and uncovering the events of a long ago tragedy that still reverberates after all these years.

I am impressed with this first installment in the ‘Stephania Valenti’ mystery series. This book was published for Italian audiences in 2013, but has now been translated beautifully into the English language. I hope the second book will be translated soon, so I can get started on it as soon as possible.

If you are looking for a fresh voice in crime fiction, featuring a unique locale, with likable and interesting protagonists, then you should give this book a try.


Book Blurb for Shadows on the Lake

A new atmospheric Italian mystery novel set in Lake Como, introducing the clever and captivating Inspector Stefania Valenti

During the construction of a new road to the Swiss border in the mountains above Lake Como, the remains of a young man are unearthed on the powerful Cappelletti family’s property. On the case is Stefania Valenti, forty-five, divorced with a young daughter, and a brilliant, determined police inspector.

Her investigation takes her back to World War II and deep into the history of the region, a place that during the war attracted smugglers, deserters, secret agents, and fleeing Jews. Steeped in the beautiful atmosphere of Northern Italy, Valenti’s investigation brings to light a family’s secret, a tragic romance, and reveals a fascinating piece of Italian history.


Night Owl Reviews Apr, 2017 4.00