Marshal Salvatore Guarnaccia of the Florentine carabinieri, wants to go south for Christmas to spend the holiday with his family, but he is laid up with the 'flu. At this awkward moment, the death of a retired Englishman is reported. Who has shot Mr Langley-Smythe in the back? And why has Scotland Yard felt it appropriate to send two detectives?
Magdalen Nabb was born in Lancashire in northern England in 1947, but now lives in Italy. She trained as a porter, but in 1975 she gave up pottery, sold her house and her car, and went to live in Florence with her son. She didn't know anyone there. and she didn't speak Italian ! But she has come to understand the country well, and in the books that she writes now, she gives a very real picture of everyday life in Italy today. Death of an Englishman was her first novel, and she has now written ten books about Marshal Guarnaccia. All the stories take place in Florence, which she describes as "a very secret city". They are murder mysteries, where we want to find out what happened, and who the killer was ; but they are also studies of people. Italians from the poor régions of the south, like the Marshal, often have to come and find work in the north. The Marshal is a policeman, but not an office ; he is fat, Sicilian, and not well-educated, so the people he meeets often think that he is stupid. But he notices details and understands how people think, so he is often more successful in finding the criminal than important policemen like the Captain. Magdalen Nabb also writes very successful children's books and a television series about a little girl called Josie Smith, who lives in Lancashire.
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