The best mysteries that let you explore the major cities of Italy

Why am I passionate about this?

I love good stories and I like to learn about other cities even if it is in a work of fiction. With few exceptions, every story I’ve written is in a location I’ve visited. When you can’t visit a place, then reading about a city in modern-day fiction is a close substitute. How many readers feel like they know the English countryside after reading multiple British mysteries? Or feel like you know Boston when reading the Robert Parker Spenser series? That’s the point of a good mystery – to take you someplace you’re not.

I wrote...

Sicilian Murder

By Alec Peche,

Book cover of Sicilian Murder

What is my book about?

An American Forensic Pathologist is called by the family of a CEO found dead in the Mt. Etna crater on the island of Sicily. The family lacks faith in the decision made by the local police that he died of a heart attack and fell down the crater.

Jill Quint, MD, and friends arrive in Sicily and discover evidence that says it is homicide. Jill must navigate the Italian Police with her team avoiding becoming victims of the killer themselves. If you want a tour of the island of Sicily, this is your book. This is the 8th book in a series that doesn’t need to be read in order.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Angels & Demons

Alec Peche Why did I love this book?

I first read this book shortly after visiting Rome about twenty years ago. Dan Brown includes the major fountains of Rome, and you learn a little about what the artists were thinking of when they constructed these works of art. I toured the public side of the Vatican, but I hadn’t realized some of its history and power that Angels & Demons put into perspective. I read the book before the death of Pope John Paul and understood the process they would go through to elect a new pope thanks to the fictional story of Angels & Demons.

By Dan Brown,

Why should I read it?

8 authors picked Angels & Demons as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

CERN Institute, Switzerland: a world-renowned scientist is found brutally murdered with a mysterious symbol seared onto his chest.

The Vatican, Rome: the College of Cardinals assembles to elect a new pope. Somewhere beneath them, an unstoppable bomb of terrifying power relentlessly counts down to oblivion.

In a breathtaking race against time, Harvard professor Robert Langdon must decipher a labyrinthine trail of ancient symbols if he is to defeat those responsible - the Illuminati, a secret brotherhood presumed extinct for nearly four hundred years, reborn to continue their deadly vendetta against their most hated enemy, the Catholic Church.

Origin, the spellbinding…

Book cover of The Monster of Florence

Alec Peche Why did I love this book?

This is a true crime book about a serial killer in the countryside around Florence who was active from 1968 to 1985. He shot 16 people to death during that time. The book was recommended to me by my neighbor who is a forensic scientist specializing in fingerprints. He was impressed with how much the Italian police fumbled this case. It’s not the slick American detective stories we have come to expect. The author writes thriller books and moved to Florence with his family to write another novel, but instead got caught up in this true crime story.

By Douglas Preston, Mario Spezi,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Monster of Florence as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Monster of Florence, which was shortlisted for the prestigious CWA Gold Dagger Award for Non Fiction in 2010, is a true account of brutal serial murder in idyllic Florence. After settling in Italy in 2000, Douglas Preston discovered that the olive grove in front of his family's new home had been the scene of one of the most infamous double-murders in Italian history, committed by a serial killer who had never been found and was known only as the Monster of Florence. Preston, intrigued, met Italian journalist Mario Spezi, who had followed the case since the first murders in…

Book cover of The Order

Alec Peche Why did I love this book?

Daniel Silva has written a long series about Israeli spy chief and art restorer Gabriel Allan. I enjoyed the series and there’s a subplot the author has long weaved together with Gabriel Allan and the Vatican. If you ever visit Anne Frank’s house in Amsterdam, you might hear the church bells from the Catholic Church next to her house. It’s a stunning contrast. I like the powerplay between Gabriel and the Vatican portrayed in the story, and I gain a little history even though it’s a work of fiction.

By Daniel Silva,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Order as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From Daniel Silva, author of the #1 New York Times bestsellers The New Girl and The Other Woman, comes a stunning new action-packed thriller of high stakes international intrigue featuring the enigmatic art restorer and master spy Gabriel Allon.



Legendary spy and art restorer Gabriel Allon has slipped into Venice for a much-needed holiday with his wife and two young children. But when Pope Paul VII dies suddenly, Gabriel is summoned to Rome by the Holy Father's loyal private secretary, Archbishop Luigi Donati. A billion Catholic faithful have been told that the…

Book cover of Transient Desires

Alec Peche Why did I love this book?

With this book, we get to visit Venice which might be my favorite Italian city. Ms. Leon has written a long-running series always set in Venice. It features an Italian detective (Commissario Guido Brunetti), his professorial wife, two children, an incompetent supervisor, and a secretary that is an IT geek. I like the series as I can feel myself walking down the streets of Venice Island over bridges, and in boats on the canals. The inspector goes home for lunch most days, something that you don’t find in America. She does a good job of describing a way of life in Venice beyond the mystery story.

By Donna Leon,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Transient Desires as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In the landmark thirtieth installment of the bestselling series the New Yorker has called “an unusually potent cocktail of atmosphere and event,” Guido Brunetti is forced to confront an unimaginable crime

In his many years as a commissario, Guido Brunetti has seen all manner of crime and known intuitively how to navigate the various pathways in his native city, Venice, to discover the person responsible. Now, in Transient Desires, the thirtieth novel in Donna Leon’s masterful series, he faces a heinous crime committed outside his jurisdiction. He is drawn in innocently enough: two young American women have been badly injured…

Book cover of Suspicious

Alec Peche Why did I love this book?

This is a cozy mystery that gives the reader a nice tour of Rome from a bargain tourist perspective. The story takes the reader north into Austria and Germany so you gain a feeling for the Alps. The couple that leads the story are suspects in a series of jewelry heists and work their way through Northern Italy and beyond to solve the thefts. It’s a light-hearted story with a little romance, no cuss words, and little violence.

By Sara Rosett,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Suspicious as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Zoe and Jack’s trip to Rome was supposed to be a romantic one-year anniversary celebration with a little business on the side. Jack’s fledgling security company has landed the plum assignment of providing additional security for the opening night gala of a museum exhibit featuring priceless gems.However, the easy job turns complicated when they discover the exhibit is the next target of a cat burglar who has struck several times in recent months, snatching up a hoard of sparkling jewels. Opening night goes off without a hitch, but then the police accuse them of switching the real gems for fakes.With…

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The Midnight Man

By Julie Anderson,

Book cover of The Midnight Man

Julie Anderson Author Of The Midnight Man

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

I write historical crime fiction, and my latest novel is set in a hospital, a real place, now closed. The South London Hospital for Women and Children (1912–1985) was set up by pioneering suffragists and women surgeons Maud Chadburn and Eleanor Davies-Colley (the first woman admitted to the Royal College of Surgeons) and I recreate the now almost-forgotten hospital in my book. Events take place in 1946 when wartime trauma still impacts upon a society exhausted by conflict, and my book choices also reflect this.

Julie's book list on evocative stories set in a hospital

What is my book about?

A historical thriller set in south London just after World War II, as Britain returns to civilian life and the men return home from the fight, causing the women to leave their wartime roles. The South London Hospital for Women and Children is a hospital, (based on a real place) run by women for women and must make adjustments of its own. As austerity bites, the coldest Winter then on record makes life grim. Then a young nurse goes missing.

Days later, her body is found behind a locked door, and two women from the hospital, unimpressed by the police response, decide to investigate. Highly atmospheric and evocative of a distinct period and place.

The Midnight Man

By Julie Anderson,

What is this book about?


Winter 1946

One cold dark night, as a devastated London shivers through the transition to post-war life, a young nurse goes missing from the South London Hospital for Women & Children. Her body is discovered hours later behind a locked door.

Two women from the hospital join forces to investigate the case. Determined not to return to the futures laid out for them before the war, the unlikely sleuths must face their own demons and dilemmas as they pursue - The Midnight Man.

‘A mystery that evokes the period – and a recovering London – in…

5 book lists we think you will like!

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