Monday, May 02, 2022

Nonna Maria and the Case of the Missing Bride by Lorenzo Carcaterra

First Line: Nonna Maria poured herself a hot cup of espresso, her third of the morning, and gazed out the small kitchen window of her two-story white stone home.
Dressed in widow's black for decades, seventysomething Nonna Maria is a woman of strong opinions. She doesn't have a phone and believes water is only good for plants. She prefers her espresso over all others, and although she lives a half block from the beach, she's never visited it. She just might be the most important, respected, person on the isle of Ischia in the Gulf of Naples. She knows everyone and everyone knows her, so when something goes wrong islanders look to Nonna Maria, not the police, to solve their problems. And she does. 
Nonna Maria has her opinion of what really happened to an old tour boat captain who drowned, and she shares it with Captain Murino of the carabinieri. She also helps a bride who is afraid of her fiancĂ©, even though doing so may put her own life in danger. 
For Nonna Maria, helping people is the most important thing there is to do, and she does it very well indeed.
I was charmed by Lorenzo Carcaterra's Nonna Maria and the Case of the Missing Bride. I've seen depictions of old Italian women dressed in widow's weeds in movies and television programs for decades, and what Carcaterra has done is put a heart and soul into one such woman to bring her to life.
First of all, the setting is wonderful. I'd never heard of the island of Ischia before, and I found its history absolutely fascinating. When Carcaterra described one spot on the island in which you could stand and see Vesuvius to the left and Capri to the right, I immediately wanted to book a flight to see it for myself. 
Nonna Maria is the perfect diamond to place in such a breathtaking setting. She has such strong opinions that, at first, she may be a bit intimidating, but once readers see the esteem in which she's held by fellow islanders, they should stop hesitating and let themselves melt right into her world. She may be strong, but she's also wise and compassionate. Anyone Nonna Maria doesn't know isn't worth knowing, and I loved watching her work with Captain Murino of the carabinieri, a man who has his own reasons for wanting to bring one of the cases to a resounding close. 
How can one old woman be such a force on a small island, especially when she has no phone and no car? As she tells Murino, she only knows what she hears, and on an island filled with people who love to talk all she has to do is listen.

As much as I enjoyed watching Nonna Maria solve crimes, you'd think that I'd want to see this turn into a series, but you'd be wrong. Part of me wants this one book to stay a perfect snapshot of the life of a fairy godmother who has a solution for all of your problems. Read it for yourself and see what you think.

Nonna Maria and the Case of the Missing Bride by Lorenzo Carcaterra
eISBN: 9780399177637
Bantam Books © 2022
eBook, 272 pages
Cozy Mystery, Standalone
Rating: B+
Source: Net Galley


  1. Oh, wow! I must try this series, Cathy. The setting sounds fabulous, and Nonna Maria sounds like a great protagonist. I love it that she's not - ahem - twenty, and that she has a strong personality. As though my TBR needed any additions...

  2. I think a character like Nonna Maria is great. This sounds a very good book.

  3. Sounds like a great character in a wonderful setting. I immediately thought of the Strega Nona picture books by Tomie de Paola when I read the title of this one. Although, this Nonna looks a bit more attractive than Strega Nona, but both have strong personalities.

  4. This sounds quite enticing. Is it a cozy or a regular mystery? I like the older character though and the setting. And now I"m off to look up Ischia.


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