The debut of Marshal Salvatore Guarnaccia of the Carabinieri, a Sicilian, stationed in Florence.
It is just before Christmas and the marshal wants to go South to spend the holiday with his wife and family, but first he must recover from the flu (which has left the Florentine caribinieri short-handed) and also solve a murder. A seemingly respectable retired Englishman, living in a flat on the Via Maggio near the Santa Trinita bridge, was shot in the back during the night. He was well-connected and Scotland Yard has despatched two officers to "assist" the Italians in solving the crime. But it is the marshal, a quiet observer, not an intellectual, who manages to figure out what happened, and why.
There were 14 books in the series written over a period of 27 years. The final title was published after Nabb's death in 2007 at just 60 years of age. VITA NUOVA was also suggested on this blog by Glenn Harper as a "best read" for 2008.
Magdalen Nabb's novels are all set in Florence and the surrounding Tuscan countryside. They are inspired by the place, its history, current events and by the people. There is an element of crime in all the stories. Florence does not have the high murder rate of, say, an American city like Baltimore but it does have a history of spectacular, sometimes baroque murders. Most of the novels are based on studies of real crimes. In some cases, the research involved is extensive and the collaboration of the Florence carabinieri is essential.
I read 3 others in the series (**) shortly after reading the first, so I must have enjoyed them.
1. Death of an Englishman (1981)**
2. Death of a Dutchman (1982)
3. Death in Springtime (1983)
4. Death in Autumn (1985)**
5. The Marshal and the Murderer (1987)
6. The Marshal and the Madwoman (1988)
7. The Marshal's Own Case (1990)**
8. The Marshal Makes His Report (1991)**
9. The Marshal at the Villa Torrini (1993)
10. The Monster of Florence (1996)
11. Property of Blood (1999)
12. Some Bitter Taste (2002)
13. The Innocent (2005)
14. Vita Nuova (2008)
Just two of the titles, THE MARSHALL'S OWN CASE, and VITA NUOVA are available for Kindle.
Amazon suggests that if you like Donna Leon you'll like Magdalen Nabb,.
Magdalen Nabb's website is still available.