Cover Image: Murder in an Italian Village

Murder in an Italian Village

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Member Reviews

This is the first entry in Falco’s cozy mystery series set in beautiful Positano. Widow, Bria Bartolluci, is following the dream of her late husband, Carlo, and herself, to open a B and B on the Amalfi coast. A few weeks prior to the opening, Bria finds a body in one of the bedrooms. With the help of friends, Bria solves the mystery. Delightful characters in a perfect setting.

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I have been wanting to visit Italy for a couple years now so I was excited this book was set in Italy. This was a kind of a cute mix of a contemporary and murder mystery. I liked the journey that this story took us on not only for the murders but also the life stories. I also like the true Italian mixed in once and a while as I am learning Italian and it helped that I could read some of it. I can't wait to see where this series goes more for the romance then the murders but I can tell it will be good just from the writing of this book.

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There were many questions in this engaging story. The mystery played out well with clues along the way and I was pleased how the ending was explained. Also, the setting was beautiful.
Many thanks to Kensington and to NetGalley for providing me with a galley in exchange for my honest opinion.

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A promising start to a new series. I grabbed this book mainly for the setting and I was not disappointed. There aren't too many cozy mysteries set in Italy and I loved the sprinkling of Italian words/phrases throughout the book. The mystery was well-planned and I did not figure out "whodunnit"!
I look forward to reading more in this series.

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Princess Fuzzypants here: Do you ever read a book and want to jump on the next airplane to where it is set? The Amalfi coast is a magical place and I felt like I was in the town of Positano with Bria, the newly widowed, soon to be proprietor of a B & B that was the dream of her deceased husband. Just building up the courage and confidence to get the business off to a good start is enough stress. But when a murdered man ends up in a bed in her home when she was taking her young son to school, it is almost too much. And then the local police grab the handyman whom Bria hired to do all the “manly” job as a suspect.

Bria feels the murder must be solved before she opens up. She is determined to help the local chief of police who happens to be her best friend’s brother. He is not happy to accept her help but she shares most of the information she discovers with him…all except something that may or may not involve someone very close to both her and her son. It is all very confusing and may have led to a second murder.

Bria does prevail with the help of the townspeople who have accepted her as one of them. It bodes well for the future in this idyllic setting. Four purrs and two paws up.

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I was drawn to this title by the cover. It made me want to spend time in the setting of this traditional mystery. Indeed, the Amalfi Coast and Positano come to life in these pages. The Italian setting is further enhanced by the frequent use of Italian phrases (luckily, there is a dictionary at the back of the book).

Bria, a widow in her forties, lives in Positano with her young son Marco, aged eight . Her husband Carlo’s dream had been to offer accommodation to tourists and Bria is trying to get the B and B ready when…a body is found in one of the empty rooms. Who is it? How did he get there? Is he even connected to Bria?

While readers wait to find out, they will spend their time meeting a good cast of characters, will get the feel of a community and will most likely wonder when the next in the series will be published.

All in all, I found this to be an enjoyable mystery. It is one without overt violence.

Many thanks to NetGalley and Kensington Books for this title. All opinions are my own.

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MURDER IN AN ITALIAN VILLAGE by Michael Falco begins beautifully with a young mother, Bria Bartolucci, walking her son to school in the picturesque Italian village of Positano. That scene will make readers anxious to spend time along the Italian coast. Of course, this idyllic setting is shattered with a murder and Bria, who hopes to open a bed and breakfast for tourists, seeks to solve the mystery. Unfortunately, the story tends to crawl although there are plenty of suspects including an over-bearing mother-in-law. There are hints of romance, too, as the widowed Bria seems attracted to the local captain of police, Luca, and her handyman, Giovanni. And, Falco throws in a possibly defunct counterfeit ring with historical ties to the area and some of the current residents. Bria is struggling to become self-reliant, and to know her village and its inhabitants: "People have pasts, she reminded herself, and reputations cling to a person long after they no longer fit." Twisty and confusing at times, MURDER IN AN ITALIAN VILLAGE has a few too many coincidences, but overall it is a cute, cozy mystery to be enjoyed for its languid setting. 3.5 stars

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Really fun book. Enjoyed the descriptions of Italy and the Italian phrases. Good mystery that kept me guessing. Fun ending! Excited to see how this series develops.

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Solid three stars. I enjoyed the back 20% of this but the first 20% was a bit slow for me. I understand the author has to introduce everyone (including all the potential suspects) but I have to admit I kept confusing some of the characters. Why were so many D-names in this book?? Delfina, Dante, Daniela... I enjoyed the setting but I didn't love Bria.

I enjoyed the family dynamics (how Bria is her mom's treasure but her sister is a "meatball") but the author might want to pull back on the use of the word "literally" - it's a personal annoyance of mine when it's overused and/or used incorrectly. I did appreciate her figuring out her relationship with her mother-in-law.

This sets up an interesting idea for a series though, and it reminded me of Kate Kingsbury's short series about a granddaughter and her grandma who open up a B&B in the Pacific Northwest.

Thank you to NetGalley for the opportunity to read and provide a fair review!- it's a personal annoyance of mine when it's overused and/or used incorrectly.

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Murder in an Italian Village is the first book in a Bria Bartolucci Mystery series.

The premise of this book looked so intriguing and inviting and that was a reason I chose it, along with the great location. The setting was as nice as I though it would be. I think it really depicted an Italian village in very convincing and realistic way.
The idea of a mystery was very tantalizing and I enjoyed the beginning.
However, the story really dragged in places and it was hard to go through with it.
Characters were at times very stereotypical and over the top, almost like a caricature. The main heroine was at times truly silly and very childish.
There were also quite a few inconsistencies in the story and the ending felt rushed.

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Dollycas's Thoughts

Welcome to Positano, Italy right on the Amalfi Coast. Carlos Bartolucci's dream was to open Bella Bella Bed & Breakfast with his wife Bria, their son Marco, along with their dog Bravo. But Carlos died a tragic death six months ago. Now Bria is ready to follow his dream without him. She has hired a handyman, Giovanni, to help with the jobs that would have been Carlos's tasks.

Bria, Marco, and Bravo have been welcomed into the community and made many friends. After walking Marco to school just days before the B&B's grand opening Bria returns home to find a stranger lying on a bed in one of the guest rooms dead and covered in blood. She has no idea who he is, how he got there, why he was killed, or who did it.  Police are fixated on Giovanni but Bria can't believe he committed the crime.

To save the reputation of her business and her handyman Bria teams up with her sister Lorenza and her friend Rosalie to prove to everyone that Giovanni is innocent by exposing the real killer before she becomes the next victim.


Bria is an interesting protagonist but I was a little concerned about her actions regarding the opening of the B&B. I would have expected her to be busy getting everything ready for the opening. It was stated several times that guests would be arriving soon but I don't recall her taking one phone call or receiving an email or referring to an online booking site. She talked about trying out breakfast recipes but she doesn't do much baking. Giovanni is fixing a few things but not urgently like the grand opening is happening soon. We read about her taking her son to school every day and the nun there playing with the dog. She is an attentive mother and that's a good thing but I assume she is going to be busy with guests in the mornings once she is open and I didn't see how she was going to address this. Maybe it is just the laid-back Italian way of doing things but it felt strange to me. The character needs more definition and development. I know it is hard to introduce all the core characters and develop them in a worthwhile way when a series is just starting out. I hope we get to know them all better as the series continues.

The mystery was intriguing. Who was this man? Why was killed? Why at Bella Bella? The author served up some red herrings but in places the story really dragged. It felt like clues were dropped almost as an afterthought. Bria did have some good sleuthing skills and was able to ferret out some great secrets, which moved the story along and at times made her mother-in-law livid. The reveal was surprising and entertaining. I did enjoy the way everything was explained at the end but something about it just felt off.

I loved the beautiful setting of this book. The author helped me escape to the Amalfi Coast with his words. I am on the fence about the snippets of Italian throughout the book because I do not speak the language. I was able to understand the meanings and many times the phrase was followed by the English words but it really messed up the flow of the story. The author does provide a glossary at the end of the book but referring to it constantly would have been even worse. Italian is a beautiful language and I know the author was using it to bring the location to life, but he had done that already with English words.

Murder in an Italian Village has some good bones. The setting is idyllic and I enjoyed my virtual visit. But I want to get to know the characters better and feel more engaged by them.  The story could use some editing in places to tighten things up and make it flow better. I am curious to see how Bria's life changes when the B & B is open and filled with a variety of guests. It is a familiar theme for a cozy mystery series but the location sets this series apart.

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Murder in an Italian Village by Michael Falco takes readers to Positano, Italy where Bria is getting ready to open Bella Bella, a bed and breakfast. A murdered man in a guest room could derail her plans. Bria with help from her friend, Rosalie sets out to prove that no one at Bella Bella was involved in the man’s death. The author transports readers to the Amalfi coast with the vivid descriptions. I struggled, though, with the author’s overly detailed and choppy writing. There are detailed depictions of what each person is wearing. There are repetitive details especially regarding the mystery. I did not find myself enjoying the chatty conversations between Bria and Rosalie. They were usually silly and filled with details that had already been revealed. I did not understand why the characters felt the need to scream, bellow, cry, screech all the time. Bria was particularly prone to screaming. I was not sure if it was to show excitement, fright, or Italian temperament. Bria and the main secondary characters needed to be fleshed out. I thought the mystery was straightforward. The killer can be identified before the victim is found. Bria and Rosalie search for clues and talk to various people. I was surprised that the police shared information regarding the case with Bria and Rosalie. Of course, the police issued the normal warning that Bria should leave the investigation to the police. Bria insisted that was impossible. There is misdirection along with helpful clues. The reveal was rushed (which was odd considering the slow pace of the book). The story is filled with Italian words and phrases. It adds to the atmosphere, but it does become tiresome having to look up the translation of each word or phrase (there is a glossary at the back of the book). The story moves along at a slug’s pace, and I thought it was too long (375 pages). As you can tell, I did not enjoy Murder in an Italian Village. I do suggest that you download a sample to see if it suits you. Murder in an Italian Village is a colorful tale with a murdered man, a dogged widow, an obliging best friend, a framed handyman, a curious clue, a domineering mother-in-law, and a picturesque coastline.

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Thank you NetGalley and Kensington Books for providing me with an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. I really enjoyed Murder in an Italian Village. I really enjoyed the descriptions of Positano and I felt like I was there. Bria, Rosalie and Lorenza are fun characters which contribute to the charm of this series. The mystery is well written and keeps the reader interested throughout the book. I also enjoyed the slower pace of the story. Nothing is rushed and it makes Murder in an Italian Village a perfect book for a relaxing reading time. I hope the next book in the series is as good as this one.

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3.5 stars - I love the premise of this new series. A widow with a young son plans to open a bed and breakfast in Positano, Italy. Then Bria discovers a dead body in one of the rooms before her grand opening, which has the potential to close her business before it ever has a chance to get off the ground. She is determined to find the killer to get justice for the victim and protect the reputation of her new inn, Bella Bella.

I really enjoyed the detailed descriptions of the area and the Italian phrases included throughout the story. (There is a glossary at the back of the book as well as real life information about the area.) Bria is a likable main character and an intelligent amateur sleuth. Something about the dialogue and the story didn't flow for me, so sometimes the pacing was off. However, I think the series has a lot of potential for future books with guests visiting the B&B, as well as Bria's friends, family, and potential love interests. 

I received an advance copy of this ebook at no cost from NetGalley and Kensington Books, but my review is voluntary and unbiased.

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This series starter has a lot of that I want in a cozy! It's set in Positano, and this might be one of the first books I read written from the perspective of someone who lives there versus visits, filling it with local character and charm. It's a balanced mix of humor and heart, and I already know I'll be picking up future books in the series. It runs a little long for a cozy, and there are a lot of characters to keep straight, but there is a ton of promise here.

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Bria and her husband, Carlo, were close to fulfilling their dream of opening a bed & breakfast in Positano when Carlo is tragically killed. Bria presses on, juggling caring for their young son, Marco, and preparing to open. On the eve of their grand opening, she comes home from dropping Marco at find a dead body in one of the guest rooms.

Even though her friend Rosalie's brother is investigating, Bria is determined to find the murderer and divert suspicion from her handsome handyman with a dubious past. With the help of Rosalie and Bria's flight crew sister, Lorenza, Bria alternates parenting and spritz-drinking. The gorgeous Italian coast is as much a character in this mystery as the actual characters. The first in a series, this book is a fabulous distraction from the drudgery of every day life. Pour yourself a favorite Italian beverage, sit back and enjoy! #MurderInanItalianVIllage #NetGalley

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The last Wednesday of the month means it’s book review time! I decided to try something set abroad, but still well within my comfort zone (a cozy mystery). Murder in an Italian Village by Michael Falco was released on the 26th from Kensington Books. As usual, I must thank them and NetGalley for access to an ARC in exchange for an honest and unbiased review. Let’s do the thing.

Murder in an Italian Village follows Bria Bartolucci as she struggles to fulfill her late husband’s dream, be a good mother, acclimate to a new home, and find herself in the process. Her new B&B is set to open in a couple of weeks when someone shows up dead in one of her guest rooms. She can’t let that ruin her opening, so of course she has to solve the murder! Throw in a couple of love interests, a family and bestie who encourage all of her antics, and police officers who actively seek her help and you’ve got yourself a typical cozy mystery.

The plot is pretty typical, but the way it unfolds is disappointing. Every time something happens or they make a big discovery, there’s a conversation about how it all makes sense, but it never makes sense. Bria or Luca make some wild guess that isn’t led up to in the story at all and it’s like the reader is supposed to go aha! but it’s just something that was pulled out of thin air. Like, why? Put it in the plot. Don’t just make it a random declaration. It’s not bad per se, but it’s definitely not a satisfying way for the story to move forward.

The writing. This is something I usually just mention in passing, but I was so distracted by the writing that I have to talk about it. The detail in this book is absolutely ridiculous. I get that authors do a lot of research and we want to include it all, but don’t. It’s not necessary and it makes for a slog of a read. I know nothing about the road system in Italy, so telling me stuff like “Bria took Viale Pasitea to Via G. Marconi and then hopped onto Strada Statale 163 toward Spiaggia di Tordigliano” etc. doesn’t help me at all. And anyone who lives in that area would know how to get from point A to point B, so you’re not really helping them either. It’s just padding and not very interesting padding at that. There’s a lot of that in this book. Also, there’s an entire chapter devoted to describing outfits. I’m all for clothing descriptions, but not an entire chapter’s worth. And only one thing relevant to the plot is mentioned in that chapter, so if you haven’t figured out who the killer is by that point, it becomes blatantly obvious who it is.

I liked the characters for the most part. Everyone is constantly screaming or shrieking, which I think is just poorly chosen wording, but other than that they seem cool. I wanted more from Giovanni. Marco was far too angelic (no kid is that good). Loved Bravo (the dog). Bria, Luca, Rosalie, and Nunzi were all pretty interesting. I thought some of Bria’s outbursts were out of character, like when she flat out accuses Daniela of murder and keeps repeating it. Nothing about that scene felt natural. Otherwise, the characters were the best part of this book.

Ultimately, I found Murder in an Italian Village a little too dense with useless trivia and a bit too thin when it came to actual plot. It was okay and if another one comes out, I’ll grab it if I see it. I won’t go looking for it, though.

Overall, I gave it 3 out of 5 stars. It was fine. If you want to learn a crap ton about Positano, Italy thinly disguised as a cozy mystery, try it.

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The major reason why I chose to read Murder in an Italian Village was for its setting of Positano on the Amalfi Coast. I've seen paintings and photographs of Positano, and it's incredibly beautiful. Unfortunately, this first Bria Bartolucci mystery didn't quite live up to its setting.

I did enjoy the setting and learning about village life there, and the author created a mystery that kept me guessing as Bria and her best friend, Rosalie, kept uncovering secrets. However, the book was hampered by a slow pace, one of those budding love triangles that I do not care for, and-- perhaps-- too much Italian flair.

Being a lover of Italian food, I think there could have been more of that in this book, but Falco could be saving that for when Bria's bed and breakfast is actually up and running. One of the things that got on my nerves quickly was how all the characters were quick to scream, shout, bellow, cry, and screech. I know this was used to show the excitable Italian temperament, but I think it might have been better served by using more exclamation points and fewer decibel-loaded verbs.

One thing that I enjoyed but that may annoy other readers was the amount of Italian used in the story. Italian is a beautiful language, and with my knowledge of French, I found it relatively easy to decipher a phrase when its meaning was not clear in context. The author does include a glossary in the back, but I can see readers become tired of flipping back and forth.

Although I know the author had to set up his characters, some areas needed more editing-- like the minute details of what all the principal characters were wearing during a party on board a yacht. There was so much detail that I found myself skimming through, but if you're passionate about fashion, your mileage will undoubtedly vary.

When all is said and done, I found Murder in an Italian Village to be a good story that could have been told better. Will I visit Bria again? I do not know.

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Having spent some time in Positano and the beautiful Amalfi Coast, I was excited to read this debut cozy mystery set there. The author did a wonderful job of immersing the reader in the location and the Italian lifestyle, focusing on food and family. There are quite a few Italian words sprinkled into the dialogue and narrative, which might annoy some readers. But I’ve studied Italian, and my husband is fluent, so I enjoyed the challenge. Most of the words and phrases are explained well enough in the context, and there’s a glossary in the back of the book (which I didn’t find until I’d finished).
The protagonist, Bria Bartolucci, is a young widow with a precocious eight-year-old son, Marco, and a very smart dog, Bravo. Before her husband died, he and Bria had purchased a Bed and Breakfast in Positano, which they named Bella Bella, and their dream was to run it together. Bria is determined to continue those plans. Everything is on track to open in time for the height of tourist season, when she finds a dead body in one of the bedrooms. She’s never seen the dead man before and does not know how he got there.
Bria’s first instinct is to call her best friend, Rosalie, who comes right over and agrees that, yes, the man is deceased, apparently murdered. They then call Rosalie’s brother, Luca, who is the Positano chief of police, and the proper investigation begins. When the police arrest Giovanni, an employee of Bella Bella, Bria decides she must prove Giovanni’s innocence and salvage the reputation of her business.
Through her amateur sleuthing, Bria discovers the name of the victim, his relationships, and some illegal business dealings. As Bria and Rosalie uncover clues, some of which they share with Luca, and some they conceal, their suspicions shift widely among various subjects.
The story is told in a light, somewhat humorous tone, and the well-drawn characters are likable. Bria’s family weighs in on everything: her parents; younger sister, Lorenza; almost brother-in-law, Fabricio; and her wealthy, domineering mother-in-law, Imperia. There’s a hint of romance brewing between Bria and Luca, which I suspect may develop in subsequent books in the series. Luca also has an interesting sidekick, female police officer Nunzi, who adds to the drama.
The plot twists and turns as new evidence and motives come to light, and I didn’t figure out whodunnit until Bria gathers everyone together and points the finger in a Perry Mason moment. If you enjoy arm-chair travel, family drama, and solving puzzles, I recommend this book. Great start to a new series!

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The first in a new cozy series set in Positano, Italy. The protagonist is Bria, a young widow who runs a B&B. Before the grand opening, a stranger is found murdered in one of her rooms. Bria sets out to prove her innocence and defend her city.

I think it took too long to get to the mystery for a cozy. I appreciate the author wanted to give background for Bria but I think this could have been done in flashbacks more. It would've matched the cozy format better.

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