Title: Murder in the Piazza
Author: Jen Collins Moore
Published on: 22 September 2020
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Maggie White, a downsized American expat is stuck in Italy with her husband Burt. Though in her mid-fifties, Maggie does not want to retire. She decides to work for an English lord – a nasty fellow who runs tailored tours for foreigners. One evening, after the fireworks, Maggie finds her boss dead. A palazzo full of suspicious guests, a valuable painting that her boss might have stolen and a policeman who believes the case is not worth looking into (initially), Maggie decides to pitch in and do what she knows the best – solving problems.
Murder in the Piazza is Jen Moore’s debut novel and consider me impressed. There is something about the author’s writing that kept me hooked on to the story until the end. A very charming setting but not-so-charming crime.
The victim was the black sheep in his family and was ‘well-known’ for his fraudulent past. Maggie soon learns her boss might be involved in the theft of a valuable painting. The local policeman is initially not interested in solving the case. In fact, the case is closed the next day – thanks to the victim’s wealthy relatives who do not want to air dirty laundry in public. Maggie decides to involve into the case and reveals her findings to the policeman. This backfires as Maggie ends up being a prime suspect in the case – she found the body, after all. Or, so she claimed…
Apart from the murder mystery, we also get to see the personal struggles that Maggie goes through. Her husband Burt had strayed from the marriage once. He’s started to groom himself well and is more happier than before – this gets Maggie thinking if there is a mistress in the play.
The identity of the murderer, though a little cliched, was a surprise. We also have the angle of forging (paintings) to consider. Did the victim catch the forger/thief during the swap and hence had to be killed? The suspense is well-maintained throughout the story.
Well-developed characters, a very well-written mystery, a charming setting and excellent storytelling make Murder in the Piazza an entertaining and engrossing read. I am certainly looking forward to reading more of Jen Collins Moore’s works.