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A Death in Tuscany, By Michele Giuttaritrs Howard Curtis

The case begins with the discovery of the scantily-clad corpse of a teenage girl, and Supt Michele Ferrara's investigation soon turns up another murder, a kidnapping, a drugs racket and a paedophile ring, plus the involvement of the Freemasons, the Mafia and a gang of psychotic Albanians.

A Death in Tuscany represents an advance in technique on Giuttari's first novel; the plotting is more accomplished, and the writing smoother. Each scene is convincing and well-realised. And yet there is little to make the reader rush from one to the next. One problem is that Ferrara is so obviously intended to be admired (he's clever, hardworking, principled, uxorious, a loyal friend, a lover of fine food, wine and music, has eyes that narrow like a cat's when he's thinking) that one is perversely disinclined to admire him. Still, if you fancy a good solid detective story set in Tuscany, this fits the bill.