COLD TUSCAN STONE, David P. Wagner, Poisoned Pen Press, $24.95, 224 pages, ISBN: 9781464201905, reviewed by Barry Hunter.
This is the first volume of a series featuring Rick Montoya, a very likely detective who has recently moved from New Mexico to Italy to practice his craft as an interpreter/translator. Rick is asked by an old school friend, now in the Italian Art Commission, to go to Volterra and investigate illegal artifact smuggling.
Rick is posing as an agent for a New Mexico art gallery looking for Etruscan alabaster articles, especially burial urns, and has a list of people to contact and gather information. His list contains a museum curator, an exporter, a manufacturer, and an old friend of his girlfriends.
During his first 24 hours he becomes a suspect in a murder and feels that he may be out of his league, as does the local police inspector. Rick continues to make the contacts and enjoys the sights and cuisine of the area.
Wagner writes from experience as a Foreign Service officer in Italy and has created a very enjoyable novel full of unsavory characters, beautiful women and wonderful descriptions of savory food.
This is a delightful entry into what may turn into a long running enjoyable series. Give this one a try, it’s like a fine meal, enjoyable and filling.