Rome, Italy is a long way from Santa Fe, New Mexico, but Rick Montoya is enjoying life as a translator. When a friend from high school gets in touch, Rick learns that Beppo is now a senior member of the Italian Art Squad, and he wants Rick to do a little unofficial undercover work in Tuscany. Rick's never been to Tuscany, and since he's being armed with a list of galleries, suspects, and an expense account, he agrees to help his friend.
Posing as a buyer for a Santa Fe art gallery, the sun hasn't even set on his first day on the job when one of his contacts dies in a suspicious fall. These traffickers in priceless burial urns are taking no chances. The local police don't take well to interference from the Art Squad in Rome, and they think Rick is a hopeless amateur, so all Montoya can do is continue to interview all those on his suspect list-- and hope that he finds the thieves before anyone else dies.
Cold Tuscan Stone is a good set-up for Wagner's series. Montoya is a smart, likable main character-- and so is Italy. The cobbled streets of Volterra, Tuscany come to life under the author's pen as do the mouthwatering descriptions of food and the sharp insights into the Italian national character.
I've always enjoyed mysteries concerning art history, and the one here is good, but by book's end I felt that it was a bit lightweight. The foundation is good. All Wagner has to do is keep on building with quality materials, and he'll construct a really winning series. I look forward to that.
Cold Tuscan Stone by David P. Wagner
Poisoned Pen Press © 2013
Paperback, 250 pages
Amateur Sleuth, #1 Rick Montoya Italian mystery
Source: Paperback Swap