Friday, November 14, 2014
DEATH IN THE DOLOMITES by DAVID P. WAGNER
I've been on quite a world tour recently, ancient Egypt, South Africa, London and Italy, but none of those excellent books have set me quite so firmly in their setting as this mystery which occurs in a village called Campiglio in the Italian Alps. It's based on a real village which fills with tourists in winter for the beautiful views and wonderful ski slopes. The author knows the place well. Although he now lives in New Mexico, he spent many years in Italy for the Foreign Service.
Rick Montoya is Wagner's hero for this story, a man who is half Italian, half American and has a translating business in Italy. His uncle is a high-ranking police officer in Rome who would like nothing more than to attract Montoya to law enforcement.
The story begins with Montoya in Campiglio with his old friend Flavio for a week of skiing and good food. His plans are almost immediately disrupted though by the appearance of a police inspector investigating the disappearance of an American who is a banker in Italy. The man's sister is also in town and she doesn't speak Italian so Inspector Albani needs a translator. He has been referred to Montoya by, who else, his uncle.
You'll not be surprised to find that the two will investigate the disappearance together as it turns into a homicide case. In between delicious-sounding snacks and meals and wine, they interview the townspeople, including the mayor who is running for re-election, his opposing candidate who runs a bakery, a realtor and a hotel owner who have a big stake in the outcome, and others. Montoya also gets in a lot of skiing and Wagner's description of the slopes and the views made me want to call an airline immediately. I also found myself craving Italian food.
The plot is interesting but the main appeal of Death in the Dolomites is the setting and the characters. I was charmed by both, enough so that I was unhappy when the book ended. It was altogether a very satisfying read, one that I hope will be followed soon by another episode in the series. I will also seek out Wagner's first Rick Montoya book, Cold Tuscan Stone.
Source: Partners in Crime Book Tours