Auntie Poldi and the Vineyards of Etna

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 05 Apr 2019

Member Reviews

Raise a glass, Auntie Poldi's back! After solving her handyman’s murder, Poldi plans to enjoy her Sicilian retirement, drink in hand. But a friend’s dog is poisoned, the water supply’s been cut off (mafioso!), and Poldi finds a body in Achille’s vineyard. As she noses around, Poldi's affair with the handsome Chief Inspector grows tense. Wine-snortingly funny.
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cultural-exploration, amateur-sleuth, women-sleuths, murder-investigation, Sicily, verbal-humor, situational-humor, law-enforcement, laugh-out-loud, international-crime-and-mystery  *****

  More dogged than Miss Marple, more outrageous and funny than Auntie Mame, more conversant with the persona of Death than The Book Thief is our German Sicilian wonder known to her neophyte author/nephew as Auntie Poldi! She is a determined amateur sleuth, a deprived widow, friend to many, frequent nighttime companion to a Sicilian detective inspector, and wearer of impossible wigs. I snorted and chortled and laughed out loud throughout the entire book! That doesn't diminish the murder investigation or the other relevant investigations and the convoluted path those investigations take. The locations and scenery are familiar to those of us who are addicted to the Commissario Montalbano series. There is no way I could decide whether this or the Sicilian Lions is better, only that reading the first is not necessary to enjoyment of this. But it would be fun.
John Brownjohn certainly transforms the Sicilian idioms and German storyline into a fantastically fine read.
I requested and received a free ebook copy from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt via NetGalley. Thank you! !
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I read Auntie Poldi and the Sicilan Lions, the first book in this series translated into the English and enjoyed the story and Auntie Poldi as a cozy mystery character.  In this second book, while I still enjoyed Poldi, she didn't quite have the depth that she did in the first book.  The plot here was very secondary and I felt that the narrative went a little off the rails at times.  Still entertaining, but wasn't as much of a page turner for me as the first book.
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From the publisher: When Prosecco‑loving Auntie Poldi retired to Sicily from Germany, she never dreamed her tranquil days would be interrupted by murder. But Sicily had other plans, and Poldi found herself honor‑bound to solve the disappearance of her beloved (and cute) handyman. Now she’s finally ready for some peace and quiet—interrupted by romantic encounters with handsome Chief Inspector Montana, of course—when the water supply to her neighborhood is cut off and a dear friend’s dog is poisoned, telltale signs that a certain familial organization is flexing its muscles. Poldi knows there will be no resolution without her help. She soon finds a body in a vineyard, tangles with the Mafia, and yet again makes herself unpopular in the pursuit of justice. But once wine and murder mix, how could she possibly stay away? 

The Auntie Poldi series appeals to me for a couple of reasons. First off, the story is narrated by her nephew, and as a childless aunt I’m always interested in stories about interesting aunts and their relationships with their nephews and nieces. Secondly, it is set in Italy, which I’ve visited twice and hope to visit again. I haven’t been to Sicily but I really want to go (and probably should have saved this book for that trip, but I couldn’t wait).

The author was born in Munich, Germany to Italian immigrants. It feels like he has done his research or has visited Italy often. I’m sure some of the stuff is stereotypical – there is a lot about the Mafia and organized crime – but I know firsthand some of the stuff is not. The sweetened espresso, the crazy driving. There are a lot of dogs in these books, including a scary pair of German shepherds named Hanz and Franz. The Italian love of dogs also seems very typical. A scene involving Poldi, her sisters, her brother-in-law, and the dog was amusingly madcap, as was a scene in which Poldi, her priest, and her sad Signora friend break into a house to search for a clue to a murder. I enjoyed the many references to the active volcano Mount Etna and its continual smoking.

The nephew is a good narrator but a terrible writer who comes to stay with Poldi and work on his terrible novel. (“Another week at my Auntie Poldi’s was over, and I was feeling proud of myself. That needs saying occasionally. I was in full flow. I was the adjective ace, the metaphor magician, the sorcerer of the subordinate clause, the expresser of emotions, the master of a host of startling but entirely plausible turns of events.” (p. 325 of the advance reader copy) His descriptions of his plot are just as bad and show the startling turns are anything but plausible.) Poldi tells him what happened as she investigates crimes, and he tells us, and they are both unreliable and entertaining.

Auntie Poldi reminds me a bit of the best of M.C. Beaton’s Agatha Raisin series, although Poldi is more interesting and the plots so far are more original and less formulaic. She is sixty years old and living her best life. Looking forward to a long-running series.

I read an advance reader copy of Auntie Poldi and the Vineyards of Etna. It is scheduled to be published in early March 2019 and will be available at the Galesburg Public Library. The first book in the series, Auntie Poldi and the Sicilian Lions, is available now.
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Auntie Poldi is back is the saddle again.  She is hot, and bored and the last of water on her street is making her cranky.  She needs a good distraction and she gets it when a clue pops up tying the map from her last case to a vineyard on Mount Etna.  
Poldi takes a little road trip on her Vespa that turns into an all-niter complete with hangover and a dead body.  What is a woman to do but swear to find the murderer?  Poldi plunges ahead enlisting the help of Padre Paolo and the Sad Signora to sniff out clues and help with some  minor breaking and entering.  
Will Poldi survive her latest caper?  Will she ever get her water running again? Is Russo really a mafioso?  You can't help but love Poldi for all her pizzazz and spunk, I can only hope to emulate her one day.
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Auntie Poldi returns!  Oh, how I love this woman.  She is a German widow of a Sicilian living in the shadow of Mt. Etna and trying not to drink herself to death in view of sea.  Once she straightens her wig, puts down her glass of wine and straddles her Vespa, there is no stopping 60 year old Polidi.  Not her Sicilian sister-in-laws, not her German want-to-be author nephew, and certainly not her handsome lover, Chief Inspector Montanta!

What does a poisoned dog and the deaths of a fortune teller and a well-known attorney have in common?  Could it be the Mafia?  Fast-paced, sexy and smart, Giordano transports the reader to sunny Sicily.  If you are anything like this 60 year old reader, you will soon be reaching for your laptop to search for Sicilian vacation rentals with a view of ocean.
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Auntie Poldi is a bit like Agatha Raisin plunked down in sunny Sicily. The woman is an endless source of witty conversation, narcissistic self-awareness, practicality, and just plain smarts. I'm going back to read the first Auntie Poldi and will then add Giordano and Poldi to my list of must-read new books. Highly recommended for readers who like a little spice and sun with their mysteries.
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