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Death of a Dutchman (A Florentine Mystery) Paperback – December 1, 2007

4.3 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews
Book 2 of 14 in the A Florentine Mystery Series

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Editorial Reviews

Review

Praise for Death of a Dutchman

“This elegant series, which began in 1981 with Death of an Englishman . . . is set in Florence, a city that glows in the Tuscan sun . . . [His] sense of estrangement accounts for Guarnaccia’s special perspective on strangers, those ‘innocents’ among the living and the dead.”
The New York Times Book Review

“The richest mystery here, however, is Florence itself, whose intricate politics and class structure Nabb parses with precision and wit.”
Washington Post Book World

“Crime fiction at its best.”
Sunday Times

“Lean, elegant prose that surpasses the best of Simenon, along with a puckish view of the Florentines from Guarnaccia’s Sicilian perspective.”
Kirkus Reviews

“Great local atmosphere and rich characterizations.”
Publishers Weekly

“A superb series . . . [Marshal Guarnaccia is] a working-man’s Maigret.”
Booklist

“Guarnaccia’s Florence is a delightful place to visit.”
Mystery Scene

About the Author

Magdalen Nabb was born in Lancashire and trained as a potter. In 1975, she left her old life behind and moved with her son to Florence, where she knew no one and even though she didn't speak any Italian, but where she fell in love with the local setting. Her Marshal Guarnaccia series, which has been translated into ten languages, was inspired by a real local marshal she befriended in the tiny pottery town of Montelupo Fiorentino. Nabb wrote children's fiction and crime novels until her death in 2007.
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Product Details

  • Series: A Florentine Mystery (Book 2)
  • Paperback: 220 pages
  • Publisher: Soho Crime (December 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1569474826
  • ISBN-13: 978-1569474822
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.6 x 7.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #675,982 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
In an apartment next door to his own flat in Piazza Santo Spirito, Florentine carabinieri Marshal Salvatore Guarnaccia finds his jeweler neighbor dying in what looks like a suicide due to his slashed hands. However, Salvatore listening to the Dutchman's last words and becomes confused when he whispers "It wasn't her". Besides wondering who is her, Salvatore knows there is not slightest evidence of foul play; not even a bruise on the dead goldsmith except for what seems like self induced cuts. Yet his gut tells him a homicide occurred.

The Florence Marshal learns that the autopsy revealed the deceased died from a barbiturate overdose, which along with the slashed hands supports the suicide belief. As his superiors tell him to drop the case, Salvatore refuses although so far he has found no proof to hint at murder except the words of a nonagenarian with no credibility and a blind person.

The second of the Marshal Guarnaccia Italian police procedural (see Death of an Englishman) is a terrific tale as the obstinate Marshal refuses to quit a case that seems to be going nowhere. Readers will feel they accompany the sleuth as he seeks clues in hot touristy Florence. A few twists enhance a fine investigative tale in which it appears the protagonist has no reason to suspect murder except the growl of his stomach insisting a homicide happened next door.

Harriet Klausner
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Format: Paperback
Perhaps if this wasn't the first Marshal Guarnaccia book I read, I'd compare it to others Magdalen Nabb has written (a dozen, so far). But as a first-time reader, I kept thinking about Simenon's Inspector Maigret, and so, using that as a template: The scenic environs--Florence here, rather than Paris; Italy, not France--provide a similar kind of pleasure; a trip abroad to a different culture. And with similarly intense protagonists. The reader can feel confident that no matter the mystery, both the Chief Inspector and the Marshal, with their dedication to duty and their native acuity, will inevitably solve the crime.

But the Marshal is a notch above those he can dispatch within the Pitti station (despite the authoritative capped M), and is lower on the police pecking order than the Lieutenant, the Magistrate, and other capped officials in the Italian police bureaucracy. Unlike Inspector Maigret, in his roost at Quai des Orfevres (headquarters, not a mere police station), there's a self-effacing quality to the Marshal. In fact, he's in Florence from the south (earning money to send home), and so the reader gets a taste of the Italian north-south dichotomy. It's thus fitting that unlike Maigret, he is not supremely self-confident, but rather, self-effacing, often doubting his own abilities.

The writing is good, with a smooth flow from description to dialogue, from recollected past to physical present. And both authors present, through their protagonists, a keen observation of details. What for me most separates Simenon and Nabb--though admittedly I'm contrasting this one book to the dozens of Maigrets I've read--is the intricacy of the mysteries themselves.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Did not finish. Very interesting at times but got a little too "wordy" for me. I skipped most of the talk by the older lady (probably identified with her). The actual mystery part was pretty good.
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Format: Hardcover
First Sentence: `Signora Giusti!' protested Lorenzini, holding the receiver away from his ear and throwing open his free hand in despair.

An elderly woman is known for calling the carabiniere station to complain. This time Marshall Salva Guarnaccia agrees to go in person. She heard an argument in the next door apartment, then silence. After talking with her for awhile, and learning she has keys to the apartment in question, he agrees to investigate, only to find a young man at the point of death, whose dying whisper is "It wasn't her."

Nabb doesn't provide as strong a sense of place as some writers; her style reminds me more of someone so familiar with a place, they forget its significance.

Where she does excel is with her characters and observations of people--the elderly woman afraid of dying alone, the blind man who can "see" through his other senses, the other policemen who work with the Marshall--these are all brought vividly to life.

Marshall Guarnaccia is a wonderful character. He is a Sicilian stationed in Florence living without his wife and sons, as they are caring for his incapacitated mother. Because of that, he lives at the station barracks. He is dedicated, empathetic and caring, with subtle humor.

Although this is only the second book in the series, as well as the second I've read, I've learned a bit more about the character with each book, and it makes me want to continue to learn more still.

My criticisms are that there was an incidence of foreshadowing, which was irritating and unnecessary, and the conclusion was definitely unusual and a bit odd.

I only recently discovered Nabb's Guarnaccia series, am loving it and delighted to know I've many more books in the series ahead of me.
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