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5 Books on Italian Crime Fiction

Italian crime fiction is a very serious business. There are a range of contemporary writers that write detective series and crime fiction (noir Italiano) set in Italy. Exploring crime and corruption from North to South of Italy, some names that instantly come to my mind are Michael Dibdin, Massimo Carlotto, Andrea Camilleri, Donna Leon and Carlo Lucarelli. But going beyond the usual, there are many more crime writers that pen down murder mysteries set in Italy. Here are 5 Italian Crime Fiction Books you must read -a perfect reading list for all Italophiles that is available in English.

5 Books on Italian Crime Fiction

1. Converging Parallels by Timothy Williams:

Timothy Williams is a British author who has previously lived in Italy. He has written 6 books on crime fiction set in Italy. With the leading character Commissario Trotti, Williams’ books are moody and full of agony. Converging Parallels is set in Northern Italy (the name of the place is never revealed!) and was published in 1982!

It is a take on the corrupt Italian political system adding a lot of mood and style with the protagonist’s looming character.

Quick Review without Spoilers:

The book is enjoyable although there are parts that can be boring and predictable but that can be the case with many murder mysteries. I plan to read the second book in the series soon and I hope that it is even better than this one!

2. The Girl in the Labyrinth by Donato Carrisi

I think I was living under a rock till the last month because I had not heard of Donato Carrisi! And now I cannot get enough of his books. Donato Carrisi is an Italian writer who writes mind blowing crime fiction! By the end of it you might be scratching your head and going back to read from the start. This is what I felt reading The Girl in the Labyrinth.

Carrisi has also written The Girl in the Fog (La Ragazza nella Nebbia) which was made into a film starring Toni Servillo.

Quick Review without Spoilers:

This Italian crime fiction book is unique, brilliant and unputdownable. The story is intense and will give you the chills. I promise if you end up liking the beginning, you’ll read a lot in one sitting!!

3. Sanctuary by Luca D’Andrea

Another Italian crime fiction author I discovered this year was Luca D’Andrea. Sanctuary by Luca D’Andrea is an Italian crime fiction set in the 70s. It captures the cold dreary vibe of the Northern Italian region of Trentino Alto Adige. I won’t give away too much on the story but it is an unusual mystery of husband and wife.

Quick Review without Spoilers:

The story is unusual and you might end up liking the female character more. She is super versatile and typically bound by her man in many ways. Sanctuary is a great pick if you’re reading Luca D’Andrea for the first time!

4. The Savage Shore by David Hewson

Looking for a book set in Calabria?? The Savage Shore by David Hewson is just the perfect fit! Written in third person, this Italian crime fiction explores the world of Mafia or Ndrangheta. It will not only give you a longing to visit the Southern Italian region of Calabria but also offer rich descriptions of the land and its inhabitants.

Quick Review without Spoilers:

Savage Shore is intelligent and well thought. It is a telling tale of the Mafia in the South of Italy.

5. A Florentine Death by Michele Giuttari

A Florentine Death is the first of Michele Ferrara series of crime novels. Michele Giuttari’s well crafted Sicilian Inspector Michele Ferrara lives in Florence and is part of the Squadra Mobile (the crime unit). Exploring gruesome murders set in Florence and Greve in Chianti, A Florentine Death is a chilling read.

Commissario Gatto, as Ferrara is affectionately called, is a likable character. But there was a lot lost in translation.

Quick Review without Spoilers:

I regret not buying the Italian version of this book, but still it was a well crafted Western European setup with peculiar habits, stunning scenery and delicious food!

Further Reading:

Commissario Montalbano books- crime fiction set in Sicily

Never trust anyone who has not brought a book with them.

lemony snicket

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4 Comments

  • Angela
    August 4, 2020 at 7:02 pm

    Thank you so much for the recommendations. I’ve also loved Camillieri and , like Elyssa, most of the BrunettI series (though she seems so anti-Italian to me).. I will add these to my list.

    Reply
    • Italophilia
      August 4, 2020 at 7:28 pm

      Thank you Angela. So nice of you to comment! Yes I agree, I don’t like all of her books either 😉 Hope you enjoy the books from this list.

      Reply
  • Elyssa Bernard
    August 4, 2020 at 4:49 pm

    I’m so thrilled with this list! I love murder mysteries and especially those set in Italy. Obviously I love Camilleri, Michael Dibdin and sometimes Donna Leon. But I hadn’t heard of any of these! Now I can’t wait to dive in. Thanks, Ishita, for always being original!

    Reply
    • Italophilia
      August 4, 2020 at 7:27 pm

      Wow, I’m honored you’re here Elyssa. Thank you cara mia for your thoughtful comment. Hope you enjoy these books!

      Reply

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