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Mysteries set in Rome?

We are all set for our Rome tour in August, have read the guidebooks, studied the maps, made plans for our free time, and now we are looking for some light reading to round things out. I've enjoyed Tim Parks and other expats on their experiences, and am also in the mood for some mysteries set in Rome, any time period. Donna Leon (Venice) and Andrea Camilleri (Sicily) are favorites, but I haven't found any thing set in Rome itself. Any suggestions?

Posted by
6370 posts

I've not read any of these but they look like they might be interesting. I love the Donna Leon series.

Posted by
12568 posts

Michael Dibdin wrote dark, compelling mysteries set in various cities of Italy, all involving the flawed but endearing inspector Aurelio Zen. The one I can find set in Rome (and the Vatican) is Cabal. Have not read.it yet but just ordered it from Amazon as we have already finished Donna Leon’s latest.

Posted by
6179 posts

I think at least a couple of the first books in the Aurelio Zen series were set in Rome, before he is transferred to the provinces as punishment. There was a BBC series on him.

Posted by
21353 posts

Angels & Demons, Dan Brown, almost all set in Rome and at many of the tourists sites.

Posted by
54 posts

Thanks, all! I've heard of the Aurelio Zen series but didn't know it was set in Rome. Michael Dibdin and David Hewson are going on my list. I've read the Dan Brown novels -- thought the latest one (set in Barcelona) started strong but kind of fizzled.

Posted by
270 posts

We enjoyed the Dan Brown Angles and Demons. While walking through the city, we made a day of locating and visiting the sites: Earth, Wind, Water, and Air. It was a light, fun activity turning the city into kind of scavenger hunt that added to the experience.

Posted by
1600 posts

Use the website stopyourekillingme.com to find mysteries set in specific locations or time periods. I just checked the listings for Italy. There are lots - including some set in Rome. Enjoy.

Posted by
1786 posts

Look for author Iain Pears. The mysteries I recall dealt with art history. I think they were set in Rome but not positive. Happy reading and safe travels.
After guide books and histories, I often like reading historical novels/mysteries set where I am about to travel. Your local librarians can be a great resource. Thank you, Cynthia, for the website notation.

Posted by
14454 posts

And many thanks for your post mentioning Andrea Camilleri. I just took a quick look on amazon.com and the kindle edition of his first 3 Montalbano novels are offered in one book for $1.99. Already downloaded. Now I have enough to read on my upcoming 12 hour flight.

Posted by
54 posts

This is great, plenty of Rome-based books to search out! I remembered that there was one Dan Brown I had started and never finished and it turns out to be Angels & Demons, so now I have that to look forward to. I love that website stopyourekillingme and have it bookmarked now. Iain Pears and Lindsey Davis are on the list now, I am off to the library and then to Barnes & Noble. I liked some of Robert Harris' ancient Rome novels, such as Pompeii, too. Note to Chani about Camilleri -- make sure the translation is by Stephen Sartarelli, I started reading a translation by someone else once and couldn't figure out why Camilleri's writing had gone so flat. Translation is an under appreciated art!

Posted by
12568 posts

Not Rome, but I will just mention that the videos of the Montalbano series are very well done. Visually stunning (filmed on location in Sicily), and the casting is perfect. Luca Zingaretti as Inspector Montalbano is clever, ironic, moody, and very sexy!

They are available for streaming or as DVDs.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/video/detail/B017T8AXAM/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&pf_rd_i=mhzchoice&pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_p=2709183962&pf_rd_r=Y111KSBE26ZA0TVTVXYV&pf_rd_s=center-5&pf_rd_t=12806&linkCode=sl1&tag=rvwfeature-20&linkId=2561435dfdf48c1ee80033851a10af7f

Posted by
1263 posts

The first response was a link to David Hewson. I've really enjoyed his Costa books and think Hewson does a good murder. Most, but not all, are set in Rome. But they are not "travelogue crimes" where every chapter involves mentioning the Colosseum or he always finds the big clue in the Pantheon. So they are not at all like the tripe of a certain famous "author" who uses locations like that.

Hewson books are a bit more gritty and remind me of the Rebus stories and Edinburgh if you've read those.

PS hate to admit it, but like TV Morse was better than book Morse, I think Montalbano is a better as a telly programme, though the books are fine too.

Posted by
14454 posts

I found some recommendations I copied from various threads on the forum, probably 3 years ago. For Italy:

"The "Roma sub rosa" series by Steven Saylor are a must read for anyone wanting to breath life into all the crumbling columns of the Eternal City. "Roman Blood" and "A Murder on the Appian Way" are particularly good. Also the "Masters of Rome" series by Colleen Mccullough is excellent. For Southern Italy Steven Saylor's "Arms of Nemesis" is excellent at recreating the luxury and intrigue of the ancient bay of Naples."

And this general advice "www.bibliotravel.com is a terrific site for finding specific city/country/location books"

I haven't read any of them but thanks to your thread, they are now on my list for my upcoming shopping trip to the U.S. And not mysteries, but not heavy reading either, I recommend Robert Harris's Pompeii - exciting, historically accurate novel for anyone planning to visit the archaeological site, and and his Cicero trilogy (Imperium, Conspirata, Dictator) which makes it enjoyable to follow Roman history in the last days of the republic.

make sure the translation is by Stephen Sartarelli It is! Thanks for the warning, if it hadn't been, I could have returned it. Translation is an under appreciated art! Rarely have truer words been written.

Posted by
54 posts

Armed with this thread of suggestions, I visited two libraries, a Barnes & Noble, and my own Amazon and Scribd accounts and now have a couple of Iain Pears novels and a David Hewson, samples of McCullough, Saylor, Davis, and Dibdin, and have started reading Angels & Demons.
I have also, thanks to Lola, found the Montalbano series available for streaming through our library.
Chani, I came up blank on the Bibliotravels website, there's nothing there, but in searching for it I did find one called Tripfiction that pointed me to some likely titles. I've read Robert Harris' Pompeii and Conclave and enjoyed them, so look forward to catching up on his other Roman fiction.
Nick, I've read a few chapters of the Hewson I found and am enjoying it, as well as the "other" author, mentioned previously ;-). It's interesting you mention that Inspector Morse on TV is better than the books -- I thought the TV series of A Year in Provence was better than the book, and it also starred John Thaw.
Thanks again for the suggestions everyone, still two months to go before we leave!

Posted by
1280 posts

It's not a mystery but I enjoyed Four Seasons in Rome: On Twins, Insomnia, and the Biggest Funeral in the History of the World
by Anthony Doerr, an account of his year in Rome.