A Fatal Encounter in Tuscany by Vivian Conroy

Title: A Fatal Encounter in Tuscany (Miss Ashford Investigates #3)

Author: Vivian Conroy

Published on: 13 April 2023

Genre: Mystery & Thrillers

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Rating: 5 out of 5.

A Fatal Encounter in Tuscany is the third book in Vivian Conroy’s Miss Ashford Investigates.

When novice private detective Atalanta Ashford is whisked away to Italy by her race car driver friend Raoul Lemont, she anticipates a happy holiday under the Tuscan sun. But a chance meeting with an Italian heiress Catharina Lanetti on the Orient Express leads Atalanta and Raoul to a party at the Lanetti’s vineyard where they have front row seats for a mysterious murder.

What a fabulous addition to the series. Having read a couple of Conroy’s books previously, I was pretty sure this is going to end up being one of my favorite series.

What’s not to like about A Fatal Encounter in Tuscany? We have Atalanta’s journey on the Orient Express. A chance encounter with an Italian heiress and her messy/dysfunctional family. A party to celebrate Catharina’s father’s sixtieth birthday – which finally ends up with a murder. There’s also a link to the ‘famous’ Medici antique – a goblet with a secret chamber (for poison).

I was hooked on to this story and couldn’t put it down until the end. I read it in one sitting – I had to, you see. Lots of ‘what ifs’ and suspects. Soon after the murder, Catharina is arrested for the crime – the one she did not commit. Raoul and Atalanta were at the party as Catharina’s guests, so they feel responsible for finding the real killer.

But this isn’t as easy as it sounds. Rumor’s that papa Lanetti was retiring and looking for an heir. Catharina was his only daughter – from his first wife. His second wife bore him three sons. The first born was kidnapped (and presumed dead) when he was fourteen months old. The other two are either too weak or too involved with ladies and money to be interested in managing the vineyard.

Catharina didn’t want the estate as she was independent and wanted to start a business of her own – which her father didn’t approve. Also, none of her family members wanted her at the party. To top this off, Catharina gifted her father a Medici goblet – a joke of sorts, for which she had to pay a hefty price. The goblet (with poisoned wine) was found next to the body, thus making Catharina the main suspect.

Dysfunctional family dynamics was the main theme of this story. Secrets and rumors play an important role in Atalanta and Raoul’s investigation. Finally, it is Atalanta who solves the case – in a Poirot-like denouement scene.

A Fatal Encounter in Tuscany by Vivian Conroy was a fun and interesting read. Likeable characters, excellent storytelling, and an interesting murder mystery to keep one guessing till the end.

I received an ARC from One More Chapter and NetGalley in exchange for an honest and unbiased opinion.

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