It’s my stop today on the blog tour for Murder in Tuscany by T.A. Williams. Many thanks to Rachel from Rachel’s Random Resources for the invite.
Title: Murder in Tuscany (Armstrong and Oscar Mystery #1)
Author: T.A. Williams
Published on: 18 October 2022
Genre: Cozy Mystery
DCI Dan Armstrong is on his way to Villa Volpone – home to renowned crime writer Jonah Moore and his creative writing course. The two-week writing retreat was a send-off gift to Dan from his colleagues. Well, they ‘overlooked’ the small print that said ‘erotica’.
Well, Dan is newly retired and recently separated from his wife of thirty years so why not give the retreat a try. He might not give the genre erotica a try but he surely wants to write a novel.
Dan meets the host’s wife and rest of the guests. There’s one young lad of late twenties who looks rather interested in lazing by the pool than attend the course. Then there are two septuagenarian ladies who claim to be renowned erotica authors. And then, we have ladies in their forties. The course is conducted by… no, not Jonah but his sister Millicent and another renowned author named Serena.
Dan is paying his former colleague’s Italian policeman-friend Commissario Virgilio Pisano a visit when he learns of a murder at Villa Volpone. Jonah was found dead in the study – stabbed to death. As Dan and Virgilio begin to investigate, it becomes quite clear that everyone at Villa Volpone has secrets to hide…
Murder in Tuscany is the first book in T.A. Williams’ Armstrong and Oscar Cozy Mystery series.
My god! What a fantabulous, engrossing and completely entertaining cozy mystery. Hands down, this book is making it to my list of Best Books of 2022 and new favorite cozy series. I have heard of T.A. Williams non-mystery novels (haven’t read any so far though) and Murder in Tuscany marks his debut in the mystery genre.
First things first, the main character. Dan’s funny, quirky, charming, a sweetheart and an excellent sleuth. Dan’s marriage fell apart when he gave more priority to his job. When he tells his fellow guests at the Villa about his failed marriage, they ask him if it was the job that ruined his marriage or something else. Rubbing salt on wounds, are they?
When Dan meets Jonah for the first time, he (Dan) is with a pretty fellow guest. Jonah’s eyes are set on Charlotte (the guest) and hardly glances at Dan. Then, another pretty guest comes over and Jonah’s attention has shifted to his new muse. And then another. It is quite clear that Jonah is a ladies’ man and his wife does not like it. Maria (Jonah’s wife) is an Italian and owns the mansion Villa Volpone. She’s sweet, soft-spoken and charming. Millicent, Jonah’s sister, is like a headmistress – well, she’s a retired headmistress and Dan cannot help but think of her as one during the tenure of his writing course.
So, when Dan is paying Virgilio a visit, Virgilio receives a call about a murder at Villa Volpone. Both men reach the place together and Virgilio asks Dan to help him in the investigation – a set of British eyes (and brain) might help in solving the case faster.
It soon becomes clear that most of the guests at the retreat have a secret or two. There’s the Canadian sibling pair whom Dan catches in the pool shower – kissing. Then there’s the two septuagenarian ladies who are too imaginative while describing scenes from their stories (erotica). As is the case in any murder, the two people who make it to the top of the suspect lists are the wife and the butler.
Speaking of butler, Antonio (the butler) looks like Count Dracula. Well, not just Dan but Virgilio too believes so… The only thing Antonio’s missing is a set of fangs…
I really loved the storytelling and quirky characters. A dash of humor certainly made the story more enjoyable. Don’t get me started on the delicious and mouth-watering food that Dan gets to eat in Tuscany. Do all writing retreats promise gastronomical delights? If yes, I am joining one… or ten. Speaking of Tuscany, reading this book made me want to go to the place and live there forever…
Oh yes, this series is called ‘Armstrong and Oscar’ because we have Oscar, the adorable black Labrador as Dan’s best (canine) friend. Oscar was Jonah and Maria’s dog. Jonah did not like the dog and even threatened to shot it down (when Jonah was alive, that is. He did not come back as a ghost and say this!) while Maria was allergic to dogs and couldn’t go near one. So Oscar ends up spending a lot of time with Dan.
So, moving on (and fast), the mystery behind the murder was very interesting – Jonah was poisoned as well as stabbed. Did the killer poison and then stab to make sure Jonah was dead? Or, were there two parties involved? We also have a dash of budding romance between Dan and… Dan is not very sure if he wants to date someone as he secretly wishes to get back to his wife, Helen.
The identity of the killer was a shocker. It wasn’t till the very end that Dan came face-to-face with the killer – Dan did not expect it. All he wanted to do was just have a chat. He didn’t expect them to confess! Then, comes another twist. 😀
I absolutely enjoyed reading Murder in Tuscany by T.A. Williams. If you are looking for a cozy mystery with a dash of humor, I recommend you to give this book a try.