Italian Village Mysteries – Adriana Licio

Peril at the Pellicano, Book Four

Five of five stars given

A writers retreat.   A “wicked” writer who had been barred from the group, but shows up anyway.  And someone among them, with murder on their mind.  While Maratea is experiencing violent stormy weather instead of sunshine, there are too many things to watch for.  Gió once again finds herself in the thick of it. 

Add to the mix a bored housewife looking for adventure, and you have an intriguing recipe.

Gió and her Brigadiere take a circuitous route to get to the bottom of this mystery.  There are perhaps too many perfectly reasonable suspects.  Yet  we know that only one can actually be the murderer.  Or do we?

Licio has done it again in this new installment of Gió’s adventures.  Engaging characters, the beautiful backdrop of the Mediterranean, and a murder with many red herrings and twists.  Another great read that leaves me impatient for the next one!

It is somewhat frustrating to watch as Gió consistently tries to bury her attractions.  To be disagreeable instead of pursuing an interest.   Her insistence on keeping her defences always on high alert is perhaps understandable given her history, but seeing how often she behaves like a spoilt child is a bit frustrating to watch!  Still, love the character, indeed, I love all the characters in these books!

I must say, I wish a perfumery like Agnese’s shop existed near me.  I’d love one of her sessions!

[Many thanks to the author for the opportunity to read an Advance Reader Copy of this book.   This is my honest review, the opinions expressed herein are entirely my own.]

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A Mystery Before Christmas, Book Three, a novella

Four of five stars given

Anna and Betta are delayed on their journey to Naples by a dead car battery.   Which leaves them stranded in Maratea.  But it could ultimately be a stroke of luck for the mother and daughter who are in search of a fresh start.

There’s been a spate of thefts in the homes of the wealthier residents of Maratea.  Books have been mysteriously disappearing from the shelves of the local library, then reappearing weeks later.

“If Paolo were to hear of our plans, he would be mad at me, but I’m not going to get involved in his investigation into the jewellery thefts. That’s for the carabinieri to solve, but I won’t leave Laura to visit the Roma by herself.”  Famous last words?

As usual, Gió cannot resist a mystery and before long is deep into solving all the things that don’t seen to make sense this Christmas season.

A short, entertaining read, Mystery Before Christmas has no dead bodies, but is nonetheless intriguing with its robberies and unexplained events.   Join Gió and Paolo as they resolve everything just in time for the happiest of Christmases!  And there’s a very happy reader here knowing that Book Four is coming soon!


A Fair Time for Death, Book Two
Five of five stars given

In a nearby village, whilst out foraging for the chestnuts that the Fair she organizes is famous for, Vanda finds a dead body.  And then all goes black for her.

When she comes to, she finds herself in hospital, having suffered from a “falling tree limb”.  When she tries to tell them, no one believes Vanda actually saw a body – that somehow mysteriously disappeared – Gió is her only ally.  And Gió is determined to prove that her friend was not hallucinating.

Follow Gió, Vanda, and Agnese – with help from Granny – as they tirelessly sift through the clues, trace history and push memories, till they come to the surprising conclusion.  

Licio has crafted another intriguing tale and given her characters so much to work with.  I literally zoomed through this one to the end.  And am looking forward to Book Three, hoping there will be many more from this author.  

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Murder on the Road, Book One
Five of five stars given

“We’d had another argument about my travel arrangements, so I decided to come home a few days early. I didn’t call him; it was meant to be a surprise, so I arrived unexpectedly very early in the morning. And I found a blonde sleeping with him. In my own bed! I screamed and screamed; I’d never thought I would have to deal with anything like this. – – – Dorian came over and told me it wasn’t what it looked like. He kept saying that the forthcoming wedding had put so much pressure on him and the commitment was taking its toll, and I should try to understand it from a man’s point of view. The blonde meant nothing to him, and she even backed him up.”

After things ended with her fiancé, thankfully before the wedding day, Gió  went to Maratea.  To nurse her hurting heart, and perhaps to really “come home”?

I am beyond happy that Gió found out that the red flags I’d seen in the prequel meant business.  Sad that she’s hurt and disappointed; but I don’t think she’s all that heart broken really.  Deep down I think she – like all her family – knew that Dorian was not THE one.

But it brings her back to Maratea.  To the things and people she loves most.  And another murder.  The maresciallo is determined to close the case as an accident so as not to interfere with his planned vacation.   But circumstances, and Gió, have a way of muddying the waters.  Will she and the young brigadiere find the true murderer?  I see a little bit of romance in their future too . . . I could be wrong!   Jumping into Book Two!

A great series so far, I highly recommend it!   The setting is beautiful too!

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And Then There Were Bones, A Prequel
Four of five stars given

They’ve been invited to Isola di Pino – an island off the coast of Calabria – for a murder mystery weekend.  Ten people, all with some link – however tenuous – to each other.  The seven guests have been invited here for a test run of the Guest House’s Murder Weekend entertainment, loosely built on the framework of Agatha Christie’s book And Then There Were None.  Or is something more sinister at play?

Journalists, a social media influencer, a writer/adventurer, an actress, a man attending with his new young fiancée, his not-quite-ex-wife also a guest.

“You’ve been invited to this island by Mrs Bianca Belardi, but even she is unaware of the real reason behind this reunion.  She’s also unaware that I know her secrets.  Yes, dear Mrs Belardi here has killed more than one person in her café Le Torte di Bea by putting arsenic in their desserts.”

Someone is brutally murdered.  The only links to the outside world – cell phones, computers, modems – have mysteriously disappeared without trace.  Can they find the murderer among them before the murderer is the only one left?

“You don’t mean it’s like the book?” Marinella cried, real terror seizing her this time.  “The killer wants to kill all of us, as in Agatha Christie’s story?”

And Then There Were Bones is the prequel to what is currently three further volumes in the Italian Village Mysteries.  Licio’s main character Gió is a bit frustrating for me.  While she seems a capable enough woman, her upcoming marriage to a man who flies several red flags  – even having only appeared in this prequel via phone conversation – makes me want to shake her!  But then, it makes me want to read the next book, to ensure she sees the light before it’s too late!

Quite apart from that aspect, And Then There Were Bones, is a good quick read.   Fashioned as it is on the Christie classic, it deviates from Dame Agatha’s plot enough to keep you intrigued.   Good read,  definitely see for yourself!   Book One in the series is up next on my Kindle.

[Many thanks to the author for the opportunity to read a copy of this book.   This is my honest review, the opinions expressed herein are entirely my own. ]

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