Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Mystery Book Review: Vita Nuova by Magdalen Nabb

Mysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, is publishing a new review of Vita Nuova by Magdalen Nabb. For our blog readers, we are printing it first here in advance of its publication on our website.

Vita Nuova by Magdalen NabbBuy from Amazon.com

Vita Nuova by
A Marshal Salvatore Guarnaccia Mystery

Soho Crime (Hardcover)
ISBN-10: 1-56947-493-1 (1569474931)
ISBN-13: 978-1-56947-493-8 (9781569474938)
Publication Date: June 2008
List Price: $24.00

Synopsis (from the publisher): Daniela is a quiet single mother studying for a doctorate in chemistry. She rarely goes out, so her murder in her bedroom at the family's new villa seems inexplicable. It is true that her mother, who appears to be an alcoholic; her younger sister, who has had mental problems; and her father, who has made his money running nightclubs and is probably involved in the international sex trade, are not your average home-loving Italian nuclear family, but what can she have done to be singled out for slaughter? And why has the prosecutor asked specifically for Marshal Guarnaccia to head the investigation?

Review: Marshal Guarnaccia has been called in by old adversary, Prosecutor Fulvio DeVita, to investigate the murder of a young single mother, the eldest daughter of wealthy business man, in Vita Nuova, the fourteenth mystery in this series by the late Magdalen Nabb.

The young woman is Daniela who is found by her younger sister in her bedroom, shot six times in the stomach and once in the back of her head. As is his custom, the Marshal visits the scene, exploring the actual place of death as well as the house and grounds. He then carefully reflects on everything he has observed over and over again. What appear to be conclusive answers at first are eventually reversed in his mind, and his keen observations provide him with a clear (or at least clearer) concept of the murder. Because all the windows had bars like a prison, an outsider could not possibly have been able to enter into the villa. So, naturally, it appears to the Marshal that it was someone in the villa who had killed Daniela. Then he wonders if the bars were to keep someone out, or more ominously, to keep someone in. When the marshal investigates the dead woman's father’s business ventures, he becomes aware of illegal immigrants from Poland and elsewhere being hired by Paolette, some being placed in legitimate jobs as maids, nannies, or other unskilled laborers, but some as “special” girls to work in his nightclub. The Marshal must not only solve the murder in Paolette’s home, but also save the young girls from a miserable life that faced them in Florence.

Nabb's mysteries have an amazing effect on the reader. It's as if they are standing with the Marshal, participating in his thought process and reasoning with him throughout the case. The reading experience with Vita Nuova, the author's last novel, is no different. At times anxious, at times tranquil, always riveting and forever touching. The mystery world has lost a great crime writer with the passing of Magdalen Nabb last year, but it is with pleasure that Soho Press is reissuing some of her mysteries for a generation of new fans to enjoy.

Special thanks to guest reviewer Betty of for contributing her review of Vita Nuova and to Soho Press for providing a copy of the book for this review.

Review Copyright © 2008 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved.

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