Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Death of a Dutchman: Review

Marshal Salvatore Guarnaccia's superiors are all for calling the death of a Dutch jeweler a suicide. They'd actually like to be able to call it an accident--just to make it easier for the widow. But Guarnaccia, who found the dying man when he was paying a visit to an elderly recluse, doesn't believe it. He can't forget the jeweler's last words, "It wasn't her" and he can't forget the way the room looked and the fact that the elderly woman had heard the jeweler and an unknown woman fighting earlier. The dedicated officer is puzzled and suspicious and must work his way through official red tape, complaining tourists, rumors of terrorists, the oppressive July heat, and the dead man's troubled past in order to discover the truth.

I really want to like Marshal Guarnaccia. I really do. Other reviewers on GoodReads have compared the Marshal to Columbo. I'd say that the Marshal doesn't even have the confidence of Columbo. He has no self-confidence whatsoever--even though he is obviously a much better detective (and far more dedicated to the truth than some of his counterparts and superiors). He is a likeable character in a Droopy, the cartoon dog, sort of way. He's so self-conscious you feel obligated to like him. But I've finally decided that these books just aren't for me. This is the third Guarnaccia book I've read and I find it hard to want to read a story where you feel like the main character is swimming upstream the entire time. He continually has no confidence in himself and tells us over and over that he doesn't have the authority to investigate. As an author, why in the world would you want to saddle yourself with a "detective" who's a member of the official police force but who really doesn't have the authority to conduct investigations. But does anyway? And solves them--but isn't really recognized for doing so and doesn't get to have authority to solve future ones....

This story seemed particularly convoluted to me and despite the blurb from Kirkus Reviews on the back of my edition, I see no connection to Agatha Christie plots whatsoever and no real evidence of "gentle Italian comedy." Given what happens to one of the younger officers at the end...it's more of an Italian tragedy. McNabb's best quality is still her ability to describe Florence in such an appealing manner and to make the reader feel as though they are there. This would be why I'm givng a ★★ -rating and not just one.

4 comments:

bloodymurder said...

I tend to not read foreign views of Italians as I usually get annoyed by innacuracies and this one is probably not going to make me change my mind by the sound of things! Florence is a lovely place though ...

Bev Hankins said...

Sergio, I just don't get these at all. If i hadn't picked this one up long ago (before the last one I read was sent to me as an ARC), then I wouldn't have read it. And I won't be picking up any more...

fredamans said...

I'm big on foreign reads, but not this one. It just doesn't appeal to me.
Great, constructive review!

TracyK said...

Oh, no. I read the first one a few years ago and I remember liking it somewhat. I have this second one... I hope I like it better than you did.

What I don't understand is why everyone has to compare books to Christie's ... or any other author for that matter. Very irritating.