For the past two and a half years, I’ve been writing about books I’ve read in Italian on my blog italicissima, which also appears on i-Italy.org. And in that time, two things became really clear to me: first, my favorite Italian books were almost always the mystery novels, and second, I wanted to write my own mystery.
What I love about Italian mysteries is that they tend to be regional. In other words, they introduce the reader to the language and culture of the region in which the crime takes place. So, reading these mysteries is kind of like traveling. The best Italian mysteries I’ve read (and they’re available in English) are those of Andrea Camilleri. By the time you finish any book in his Inspector Montalbano Mystery series, you’ve learned a lot about the language, customs, cuisine and scenery of Sicily.
Besides Camilleri, the Italian author who most inspired me to write my own mystery was Gabriella Genisi. She introduces readers to her native city of Bari through her Inspector Lolita Lobosco Mystery series. According to Genisi, Camilleri’s series got her thinking about what a female version of Montalbano would be like, so she created a busty Sophia Loren lookalike who reflects the color and warmth of the Puglia region. My favorite thing about Genisi’s books, apart from Lolita, are the fruit-themed titles, like La circonferenza delle arance (The Circumference of Oranges) (Sonzogno, 2010).
Following Genisi’s lead, I started thinking about what an American version of Inspectors Montalbano and Lobosco would be like, and ex-cop-turned-private-investigator Francesca “Franki” Amato was born. Of course, she’s of Italian origin, and she’s from Texas but has roots in New Orleans. Like Lolita, she looks like a 1960s Italian movie star: Claudia Cardinale. But unlike her Pugliese muse, she’s not into fruit. Instead, she’s kind of partial to Italian wines and liqueurs.
If you want to get to know Franki, you can read about her when Limoncello Yellow is released on January 4th. And be sure to sign up for my newsletter to get the scoop on contests, exclusive reads, and upcoming releases!