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Vita Nuova by Magdalen Nabb

Vita Nuova (2008)

by Magdalen Nabb

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? ? ? 1/2

I think this might be the last one...I know for sure I am missing the first one and it's not available.....

Wow, her plots are getting more & more twisted.......what awful people she writes about! I'm not sure how I feel now that I've finished it....... I know this was very convoluted.

A young woman is shot in her abdomen several times, but it is the bullet to the back of her head that killed her. As she was in her bathrobe, we know she was familiar with her murderer.

Her mother is awakened & found to be in a drunken stupor, her sister hysterical, her father in the hospital from a stroke.

Father turns out to be a pimp and major gangster, mother was a prostitute of his, whom he beat to a pulp and married so that charges would be dropped & he could keep control of her....... Father also runs an "employment agency" for young immigrants.

Then there is the Prosecutor (who the Marshal once before proved wrong) but now seems content to let the Marshal handle the case. ( )
  Auntie-Nanuuq | Jan 18, 2016 |
Her last mystery before her death, this one didn't hold me. the writing seemed more disjointed and the internal dialogue in the main character's head seemed very convoluted. I prefer her earlier work. Setting is Florence. This plot deals with a prostitution ring (illegal aliens and children) that is protected by higher-ups in the Italian bureaucracy. ( )
  SignoraEdie | Oct 31, 2008 |
#14 in the Marshal Guarnaccia series.

This is the last and, in my opinion, among the best of the series; Nabb died in 2007 shortly after writing this book.

I had not read any of the series for quite some time; as preparation, I reread all but one of the previous books (I do not have #9, The Marshal at the Villa Torrini). I was impressed once more by the uniform excellence of the series: the understated writing, the evocation of Florence, the intriguing plots.

But uniquely flavoring the series are the characters: the emergence of Guarnaccia himself as a unique protagonist in the genre. Guarnaccia, a Sicilian among the blunt Tuscans of Florence, is tall, overweight, seemingly slow, and pretty much inarticulate. Yet beneath an exterior of apparent mental dullness and lethargy, there lurks an inquisitive intellect, a nearly photographic memory for details, and an ability to put together a jumble of seemingly disparate images and words, details, to make eventually a coherent whole. He considers himself stupid, but except for the more foolish around him, no one else does. His superior, Captain Maestrangelo, is another well-drawn character who respects Guarnaccia; in this book, the two men finally break through the barriers of personality and formality that have characterized them in previous novels. It is Guarnaccia’s compassion, his understanding of the inhabitants of his Quarter and their “little problems’, that allows him to intuitively penetrate to the heart of issues. His inarticulate love for his family colors his outlook and the way he deals with these very “ordinary people”.

Other notable characters are Teresa, Guarnaccia’s sharp-tongued but understanding wife; his second in command, Brigadier Lorenzini; his two sons, Totó and Giovanni; the shopkeepers and artisans of the Quarter.

All these elements are present in this, the final book. All the characters have grown in complexity and interest during the series, culminating in this final novel.

The plot of Vita Nuova is concerned with the murder of a single mother, daughter of a well-connected family who have just recently purchased a luxurious villa outside of Florence. The murder is puzzling; there are no witnesses and seemingly no lead into the case. In addition, the public prosecutor on the case with whom Guarnaccia has worked, unhappily, in the past—one who publicly disparaged Guarnaccia’s intelligence and competency—suddenly is Guarnaccia’s best friend and admirer. Instinctively following the advice of a newspaper acquaintance and working undercover, Guarnaccia is immersed in the seamier, more violent aspects of Florence, and begins to uncover, little by little in his slow, remorseless, bulldog way, the secrets that underlie the case.

Nabb skillfully promotes the plot. One of her hallmarks—subtlety—is at its finest in this book. Despite awkwardness, clumsiness, there is nothing blunt or obvious about Guarnaccia, and Nabb uses subtlety to bring out both his character and that of those around him.

This is an excellent book, one in which Nabb, as had been the case in the last three or four, expanded the complexity of her vision of Guarnaccia and the Florence in which he lives. It is an unexpected page-turner; because she is so understated in her writing and Guarnaccia himself is such an unassuming character, her books never seem the type, and yet always you are drawn more and more into the plot until you can’t put it down until the end.

When I closed the book, it was with a sense of deep regret and sadness that this was the end, not just of this book, but of the series itself. I will miss the Marshal a great deal.

Highly recommended. ( )
1 vote Joycepa | Sep 15, 2008 |
last book, printed posthumusly. I will miss the Marshall ( )
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The marshal stood near the edge of the swimming pol, his eyes sheltered behind dark glasses from the glare of the low sun.
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When Marshal Guarnaccia is called upon to investigate the murder of a young woman, he wonders if the girls father, Paoletti, might have had something to do with her death. Enlisting the help of a local journalist, Marshal Guarnaccia's investigations draw him into Florence's seedy underworld.… (more)

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