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Tim Parks’s Top 5 Italian Crime Novels

Author Tim Parks new novel Painting Death is set in the turbulent art world of Verona. Based himself in Milan, Tim is the author of novels, non-fiction and essays, including Europa, Cleaver, A Season with Verona and Teach Us to Sit Still. He lectures on literary translation in Milan and is the perfect choice to compile a list of the very best Italian based crime books.

The Day of the Owl, Leonardo Sciascia, 1961
A man is shot running across the piazza to catch an early bus in a small Sicilian town. Published in 1961, when Italy was still in denial of the existence of the mafia, Sciascia uses the detective story form to throw light on a web of criminal connections that lead to the heart of government in Rome.
To Each His Own, Leonardo Sciascia, 1966
Two middle-class professionals out hunting in the Sicilian countryside are shot dead. Professor Laurana’s attempt to decipher an anonymous letter and understand the motives of the crime, lead him into a quicksand of corruption and peril.
The Talented Mr Ripley, Patricia Highsmith, 1955
Let loose in Italy the penniless and resentful Ripley, murders a rich acquaintance and assumes his identity. A brilliant account of the Anglo-Saxon mind set throwing off its moral shackles in the sparkling Mediterranean sunshine.
The Potter’s Field, Andrea Camilleri, 2008
Camilleri is Italy’s most celebrated detective story writer and his Inspector Montalbano the most popular. Here a body butchered beyond any possible identification is found in an empty field, while the naval husband of a beautiful woman disappears. Camilleri mixes fun and mystery, Sicilian cooking and dialect in about equal proportions.
Così Fan Tutti, Michael Dibdin, 1997
Dibdin’s would-be lazy detective Aurelio Zen tackles prostitutes, corrupt politicians, and threatening Mafiosi when he would rather be doing some serious eating and drinking. Dibdin has a wonderfully droll take on Italian life.
A big thank you to Tim for sharing with us his top five Italian set crime books.

Have you read all five? Which ones would you add to the list? Check out all our European Crime Books over on our Pinterest Map!


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