As part of my prep for my trip to Italy this fall, I read a wonderful little mystery, When in Rome, by Ngaio Marsh. First published in 1971, it is quite dated in some ways--no cell phones, being the main gadget missing from the character's lives, and a preponderance of 1960's era swinger slang--but in terms of atmosphere and geography and setting, it was perfect.
This is a Roderick Alleyn mystery--my first time meeting this suave British police detective--but I'm sure it won't be my last. He is charming, clever, and fun to be around.
The setting is Rome, of course. Dame Ngaio Marsh has set her story in the Basilica of San Clemente, but changed the name. Not exactly sure why, but I loved looking up places that Alleyn and the other characters visit in the course of the novel.
In a nutshell, the story revolves around a murder that happens during a special tour of the basilica by a motley crew of mostly British tourists with a Dutch couple thrown into the mix, and it reminded me a lot of an Agatha Christie mystery.
I enjoyed the mystery--didn't figure it out but loved how it worked out in the end. Adored the setting and now have the Basilica of San Clemente on my must-see list for Rome.
I can recommend When In Rome for mystery lovers, for those who are nostalgic for the 1960's and that "mod swinging scene," and for those who dream of visiting Rome and exploring the layers of history in the Eternal City.
|Basilica of San Clemente|