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Cold Tuscan Stone (Rick Montoya Italian Mysteries) Paperback – September 3, 2013

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Product Details

  • Series: Rick Montoya Italian Mysteries (Book 1)
  • Paperback: 250 pages
  • Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press (September 3, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1464201927
  • ISBN-13: 978-1464201929
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 5.5 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #771,578 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Wagner's appealing debut introduces Rick Montoya, who's moved from Santa Fe, N.Mex., to Rome, where he's just launched a translation business. When Beppo Rinaldi, an old friend working for the Ministry of Culture, asks Rick to pose as a representative of a New Mexico gallery to flush out purveyors of items stolen from a tomb in Volterra, Rick, with his fluent Italian and a well-placed uncle in Italian law enforcement, agrees. When Rick's promising first contact falls to his death from a wall in Tuscany, a veritable parade of alluring women and shady characters besiege him for clandestine meetings. Neither he nor local commissario Carlo Conti knows whether these people are legitimate dealers or something less savory like art forgers, thieves of priceless Etruscan antiquities, and even murderers. The intriguing art milieu, mouthwatering cuisine, and the team of the ironic Conti and the bemused but agile Montoya are bound to attract fans. (Sept.)

From Booklist

An Etruscan urn dating from the fourth century BCE is unearthed in Italy. It’s apparently one of many: the market is suddenly being flooded by similar items. Suspecting some or all of them to be fakes, authorities ask Rick Montoya, an American translator living in Rome, to pose as a prospective buyer and find out who’s distributing the (allegedly) ancient relics. Murder and mayhem soon follow. The first in a new series, this should appeal to fans of Jonathan Gash’s Lovejoy novels and Iain Pears’ Italy-set art-theft series starring Jonathan Argyll and Flavio diStefano. --David Pitt --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

More About the Author

David P. Wagner is a retired foreign service officer. The Rick Montoya Italian Mystery series reflects a love of Italy gained during the nine years David worked in Milan and Rome. He and his wife live in New Mexico.

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Laura Hartman on September 25, 2013
Format: Paperback
Former Texan Rick Montoya lives in Rome working as a freelance translator. Immersing himself in Italy's rich culture and cuisine, he is an unlikely candidate for an undercover agent working for a local police department in Tuscany. But when his old high school buddy Beppo Rinaldi, who now works for the Italian Ministry of Culture, asks for his help he is intrigued and quickly steps up to the challenge.

There are art thieves in the city of Volterra, in western Tuscany, selling priceless Etruscian burial urns on the black market to the highest bidder. Montoya is to pose as a buyer from Santa Fe to connect with the antiquity art community to lure them out for the police. The job seems easy enough with the local police guiding him - until he arrives and finds out the locals really don't trust an outsider from Texas who isn't part of a law enforcement agency.

Rinaldi has him focus interviewing three possible suspects. One is a gallery owner, one is an heiress, and one is in the import/export business. Each of them agree to speak with Montoya, all of them are mysterious but in different ways. The night he arrives, someone ends up dead. Montoya appears to be the last one that spoke with the murdered man. This gives the local Commissario more reason to distrust the American.

Montoya's investigation is further complicated because one of the prime suspects is a gorgeous friend of the woman he is seeing. Now Montoya needs to balance a jealous girlfriend, a resentful police force and work on a translation job all the while trying to convince the possible suspects that he is really an art dealer from the states. Will they find the art thief before someone else dies?
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By bookbuzz on October 4, 2013
Format: Paperback
Volterra is a walled town in Italy's Tuscany region. I have to admit that before reading David P. Wagner's debut mystery novel, Cold Tuscan Stone, I knew little about Volterra or its medieval and Renaissance buildings, Roman theatre, and Etruscan sites. David Wagner's description of the town and the surrounding countryside where it's possible to come upon ruins from antiquity without looking over the shoulders of a tour group has made me want to visit this historically significant hill town.

The history of the town and its previous inhabitants has been woven into a mystery that has at its centre: art scams; the illegal selling of stolen Etruscan burial urns and the fraudulent trade in copied urns sold as originals.

Rick Montoya arrives in Rome from the US to set up a translating business. He embraces Italian life bigtime - loves the food, wine and people; especially his girlfriend Erica. Of a feisty disposition, Erica is not a young woman to trifle with and Rick sometimes has difficulty keeping their romance on an even keel.

A charmingly laid back guy, Rick finds it hard to say no when an old school friend Beppo, employed by a branch of the Italian police art squad, asks him to travel to Volterra to investigate Etruscan tomb raiders - ancient art works are being removed from burial sites to be sold to foreign buyers. Rick accepts the undercover assignment and despite Erica's protestations travels to Volterra posing as a scout for a New Mexico gallery wanting to buy art works that will appeal to their clients.

On arrival, Rick contacts the local Commissario who, on the eve of his retirement from the force, is peeved that Rome have sent an amateur, even worse: a foreign amateur to solve the mystery of the missing urns.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Janet on September 25, 2013
Format: Paperback
American Rick Montoya has moved to Italy, his mother's birthplace, to make his way as a translator. But what should be a cut and dried career move, takes on sinister overtones when he is recruited by the Italian Art Squad for an undercover assignment in Volterra to look for Etruscan forgeries and antiquities smugglers. Bodies pile up in the medieval town, and no one is to be trusted. This mystery is fast paced, filled with fascinating detail, and features a setting to send any reader in search of a good travel agent. A fine read and a great introduction to a new series.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Harriet Klausner #1 HALL OF FAME on September 3, 2013
Format: Paperback
Cold Tuscan Stone
David P. Wagner
Poisoned Pen, Sep 1 2013, $24.95
ISBN 9781464201929

Six months ago, Rick Montoya left Santa Fe to become a translator in Italy as he speaks fluent English and Italian since his dad worked for the American Foreign Service and his mom is a Roman. Upon arrival, he met with his basketball schoolmate at the American Overseas School of Rome, Beppo Rinaldi, who surprisingly didn't join the affluent family business but instead works for the Ministry of Culture.

Beppo asks Rick to help him uncover the thieves taking valuable Etruscan relics from a tomb in Volterra and the forgers copying the originals. Rick agrees to masquerade as a New Mexico gallery agent. He travels to Tuscany where Rick chats briefly with a gallery employee who immediately afterward falls to his death. Commissario Carlo Conti suspects Rick killed the man while a horde of mostly unsavory people make contact with the American. Finally his friend La Sapienza Art History Professor Erica Pedana comes from Rome though Montoya wonders if it is for him, the art or something unsavory; while the local cops and the artifact traffickers target Rick too.

The first Rick Montoya Italian Mystery is an entertaining undercover investigative thriller due to a strong cast of thieves, forgers, and legitimate dealers while the translator and the Commissario complement each other. Action-packed readers will enjoy David P. Wagner's modern day art history in Tuscany.

Harriet Klausner
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