In this second mystery, written by Christobel Kent and featuring Private Investigator Sandro Cellini she uses the mixture of the clever Lt. Columbo of the Los Angeles Police Department with an understanding of how things really work in the Tuscan criminal world.
As PI Cellini, a former policeman, tries to get his firm off the ground, looking for business among his old contacts with the police department and boring jobs such as following teenagers to and from school at the behest of their parents, who can afford to pay someone else to monitor their children, he is reminded of an old case that he worked on when he was just starting out as a PI. He was hired to check into the background of Loni Meadows, the Director of an Italian-American artistic retreat in an old castle nestled in the hills of Florence.
Presently, as Ms. Meadows is still in charge of the retreat, she goes off the icy road one night near the castle and is killed. The conditions of her death don't seem accidental to Sandro and he decides to investigate. As Sandro gets into the case of Ms. Meadows death and tries to uncover the truth, he is drawn into the lives of the art community staying at the castle and the world these people live in.
This is definitely an Agatha Christie type mystery where there are umpteen suspects and Sandro goes from one to another and most of them couldn't stand the victim. All he has to do is figure out which one disliked her the most.
A fascinating and very well-written mystery with a very dark atmosphere, which you want for a story in an old castle in Italy.
Sandro Cellini, P. I., Florence’s answer to Donna Leon’s Guido Brunetti, returns in this atmospheric mystery set in a forbidding castle.
As Sandro Cellini comes to grips with the tough realities of life as a private detective, touting for business among old contacts and following errant teenagers, an old case comes back to haunt him.
Once the subject of a routine background check back in Sandro’s earliest days as a private investigator, the glamorous, charming, and ruthless Loni Meadows, the director of an American-Italian artistic retreat in a castle in the hills outside Florence, goes off the icy road in her car one night. The circumstances of her death seem less than accidental to Sandro. However inconvenient his suspicions might be, both to Sandro—whose marriage appears to be disintegrating in the aftermath of his wife’s illness—and to Meadows’s erstwhile employers, the detective presses on. As he attempts to uncover the truth of Meadows’s violent and lonely death, Sandro finds himself drawn into the lives of the castle’s highly strung community and the closed world they inhabit in the isolated Etruscan hills of the Maremma.
Reminiscent of a locked-room mystery in the style of Agatha Christie, A Murder in Tuscany leads the reader from one possible perpetrator to the next; to Sandro’s chagrin, all of the artists in residence at the time of Loni’s demise had more than enough reason to dislike her. But who in the group had the most compelling motive to want her dead?
Kent is a masterful investigator of character and mood, and her second mystery conveys the gloom of the Orfeo castle as well as the individual dark lives of its inhabitants in a chilling, memorable way.