Death of an Englishman


It's almost Christmastime in Florence and Marshal Salvatore Guarnaccia's greatest wish is to recuperate from the flu and travel home to see his family for the holiday but the murder of an Englishman will need to be solved before he can go home to Sicily.

When headquarters receives the call for help it's actually Carabiniere Bacci who responds first. He's young and doesn't get on too well with Guarnaccia but being that the police are shorthanded during the holiday they will have to work together and make the best of it.

Mr. Langley-Smythe, who lived in a small English community, was shot in the back during the middle of the night. As the policemen start their investigation they realize that even though everyone knew one another this expatriate community wasn't all that much for interaction. In addition to trying to communicate with neighbors, some who don't even speak Italian, the officers will also have help or hindrance, depending on who you ask, from two detectives sent over by Scotland Yard.

There were few interesting characters but most importantly I was surprised at how little Marshal Guarnaccia actually features in the book. He doesn't come across as a most likeable of characters either and frankly I kept thinking why isn't this the Carabiniere Bacci series. He seems to be doing most of the work after all.

Marshal Guarnaccia does become the key figure in solving the crime, but this slim novel left a lot to be desired. I try to give first novels in a series a bit of a chance and hope that characters will be more fleshed out in future books but I can't work up much enthusiasm to read another one.