Edmondson, Elizabeth. The Villa in Italy.

NY: HarperCollins, 2006.

This author has produced a series of “Vintage Mysteries,” all set within the past few generations, that I have found very entertaining. (Maybe it’s because I’m old enough that some of them take place within my own lifetime.) This one follows the classic mystery method more than some of her others, and it’s quite good. I’m sure some people will consider it a “women’s book,” which I frankly find annoying; a book is either well written or not, and that’s really all that matters.

Delia Vaughan, in her late twenties, is an opera singer living in London and rising gradually in her profession when she receives a letter from a law firm that she’s named in the will of the late Beatrice Malaspina, owner of Dante Villa in Liguria, and if she wants to collect her mysterious bequest, she’ll have to come for a visit. Three other Brits and one American receive similar letters and soon they’re all down there enjoying the Italian sun and wondering what’s going on. Naturally, none of them knew Mrs. Malaspina and they’re complete strangers to each other, as well. But the lady seems to have known a great deal about each of them, including their personal problems and their secrets. Then the local lawyer tells them a codicil has been hidden somewhere on the villa’s grounds. Find that and all will be revealed. They have thirty-three days.

Edmondson is pretty good with complex plots and with the details of believable characterization, all of which she displays here. As the visitors explore the villa and try to figure out the mystery, of course, they also get to know more about each other. Relationships develop. Confessions are made. And then more people show up at the villa very unexpectedly — some of whom are definitely not wanted. It all becomes pretty convoluted. As someone comments to Delia with a shake of the head, “Your family is like something out of ancient Greek drama.” It’s an entertaining story and would make a good limited series for television, too.

Published in: on 3 December 2016 at 5:31 pm  Leave a Comment  
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