Monday, November 10, 2008

Mystery Book Review: The Marshal's Own Case by Magdalen Nabb

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

The Marshal's Own Case by Magdalen Nabb

The Marshal's Own Case by
A Marshal Salvatore Guarnaccia Mystery

Soho Crime (Trade Paperback)
ISBN-10: 1-56947-531-8 (1569475318)
ISBN-13: 978-1-56947-531-7 (9781569475317)
Publication Date: September 2008
List Price: $13.00

ReviewThe Marshal's Own Case is, chronologically by original publication date, the seventh mystery in this series by the late Magdalen Nabb featuring Florence Marshal Salvatore Guarnaccia. Soho Press is reissuing some of the earlier books in this wonderful series.

The Station Pitti outside Florence, Italy, is a quiet location where no more is expected of the Marshal than to keep order in the district, settle disputes between arguing neighbors, organize security for exhibitions, and the like. Now, much to the surprise of the Marshal, his captain gives him a new assignment. He is to lead his own investigation into the murder and mutilation of a woman’s body found in plastic garbage bags. The body, it turns out, is that of a transsexual. The Marshal, content with his self-effacing job, must now venture away from his sheltered world in Pitti Palace to inquire about, and seek out, a criminal in the poorly lit and murky hangouts where prostitutes, drug dealers, tricks and pimps rendezvous.

The Marshal, his wife Teresa, and their two teen age sons Giovanni and Toto, live in a small home behind the Pitti Palace. The boys are typical middle school students, needing a little prodding to study more and trying to keep out of trouble. Toto of late, however, is doing poorly in school, and has joined up with the “wrong” crowd, or so his teacher says. This problem started after the Marshal received his orders from the Captain to head up his own investigation into the murder of the transsexual. Guarnaccia had little time for the boys after he became involved in the investigation. He thought the idea of him leading men in an investigation was ridiculous. He wasn’t a detective. In fact, he had never been trained for such an assignment. Even though he was good at observations and did not miss much, he doesn't consider himself very smart and certainly cannot articulate very well. When starting on the exploration of clues, for example, he was unaware of the difference between a transsexual and a transvestite. He must enter a world he knew very little about. When a transsexual is arrested for the brutal slaying and mutation, the Marshal has a difference of opinion. Though all the clues point to this person, the Marshal remembers seeing something, somewhere, or hearing someone somewhere, which would prove the man was not guilty. He is limited to the time that he has to remember what he had seen or heard and provide the proof. Can he do it before the innocent man, at least one innocent in the Marshal’s mind, is confined to a life in prison?

The Marshal’s Own Case is a stirring tale of a man devoted to his family and his job, but whose world is altered by a responsibility he feels he is incapable of handling. He knows he must, however. His wife understands, but his children are confused. He is faced, for possibly the first time in his career, with the need to balance his home life with his mission at work. With The Marshal’s Own Case, Nabb has crafted an excellent story, deeply expressive characters with conflicted emotions, and above all a first-rate mystery.

Special thanks to guest reviewer Betty of The Betz Review for contributing her review of The Marshal's Own Case 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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Synopsis (from the publisher): The marshal must leave his snug world, the carabinieri station at the Pitti Palace, and look for a criminal in the shadowy world of prostitutes, their pimps, and their tricks. No one believes he can navigate in this milieu, much less identify a killer, but once again he confounds them.

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