Books by Magdalen Nabb

Magdalen Nabb was born in Church, a moorland village in Lancashire, England. She studied art and, later, pottery which she taught in an English art school whilst exhibiting her own work until 1975 when she moved to Florence in Italy. There, she continued


VITA NUOVA by Magdalen Nabb
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: June 1, 2008

"With the passing of Nabb (The Innocent, 2005, etc.) this past August and Michael Dibdin the year before, the Italian-set mystery has lost its two leading stylists. Guarnaccia, who like Maigret enjoys a good meal, a decent glass of wine and the company of his wife, will be missed."
The final appearance of Florentine-based Marshal Salvatore Guarnaccia. Read full book review >
THE INNOCENT by Magdalen Nabb
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: Oct. 1, 2005

"Lean, elegant prose that surpasses the best of Simenon, along with a puckish view of the Florentines, from Guarnaccia's Sicilian perspective. "
A perfect Tuscan day is ruined when a body surfaces in Florence's Boboli Gardens. Read full book review >
SOME BITTER TASTE by Magdalen Nabb
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: Oct. 1, 2002

"Heir to Simenon's spare, lean prose, Nabb surpasses her stylistic mentor with a stunning, intricately plotted tale of contemporary malfeasance, wartime accommodations, and long-held Italian prejudices."
Introspective Marshall Salvatore Guarnaccia (Property of Blood, 2001, etc.) is a thoughtful, decent policeman who meant to follow up on Signora Sara Hirsch's complaint that an intruder had been in her apartment. But by the time he's dealt with the brutalized, underage Albanian prostitute illegally smuggled into Florence and the minor robbery at the Villa L'Uliveto, the home of stroke-impaired Sir Christopher Wrothesly, the signora has been murdered. His belated queries indicate that the nearly insolvent signora had been expecting a windfall: the return of a Monet, once wrested from her Jewish forebears during the war, now supposedly in the keeping of a half-brother no one had ever seen, and the neighbors were half-convinced didn't really exist. Before he can track down the provenance of the painting, Guarnaccia is called once again to the Villa, where Sir Christopher has died, more valuables have gone missing, and his secretary, Jeremy Porteous, is fingering a staffer, an illegal Albanian immigrant, as the thief and killer. Seeking to untangle who was murdered, who was not, and who owns which treasures, Guarnaccia winds up immersed in the complicated life of the signora's deceased grandfather, Jacob Roth, which places her and the urbane, wealthy Sir Christopher under the same family tree whose branches have been systematically denuded by an antiques dealer with unscrupulous ties to both. Read full book review >
PROPERTY OF BLOOD by Magdalen Nabb
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: Sept. 7, 2001

"A multidimensional view of Italy's kidnapping laws, the ways around them, and the greed that destroys some families while love and unspoken understanding succors others. As well-written and emotionally acute as The Monster of Florence (1997). "
Once again employing the pared-down skills of a Simenon, Nabb's 11th outing for Florence's Marshal Salvatore Guarnaccia demonstrates that the carabinieri's best investigative technique is silence. Watching, waiting, and intuiting, he listens to edgy Caterina Brunamonti confess that her mother, the beautiful Contessa, a former international model and the widow of the late Count, was kidnapped ten days before, and that her migraine-prone brother Leonardo did not want to involve the police or the prosecutor's office. Instead, they've turned to family lawyer Patrick Hines, who's called in a private eye. But still the family's had no contact with the kidnappers—or proof that the Contessa still lives. Narrowing the villains to two rival Tuscan bandits, the dreaded Salis and the despicable Puddu, Guarnaccia finds the Contessa's car, her beaten doggy, and indications she's been kept in a cave on Salis's property—but suggestions as well that this scenario might be a frame-up by Puddu. Furthermore, young Caterina, negotiating with the press, firing her mother's staff, wresting control of her mother's design business from her brother, is spinning wildly out of control. Meantime, the Contessa, exhibiting traits of the Stockholm Syndrome, allies herself with one of her captors and is shocked beyond depression at newspaper versions of her children's actions, preparing for a resolution that bodes ill for the future of the Brunamontis. Read full book review >
THE ENCHANTED HORSE by Magdalen Nabb
ANIMALS
Released: Oct. 1, 1993

A lyrical fantasy about the transcendent power of the imagination. Irina's parents are grim, hard-working farmers, with no spark of affection or humor leavening the daily grind they expect her to share. Christmas is a joyless observance; at their instruction, even choosing her own present becomes a dreary chore. Then Irina spies the tattered figure of a horse in a junk- shop and—with the help of the blind owner—persuades her parents to let her have it. Tenderly, she cares for ``Bella,'' brushing and feeding her and treating the wounds that appear as she's cleaned. In the night, Irina's rewarded with a magical ride on Bella—now come to life and so large that Irina can no longer reach her back; but as the blind man has warned, the love-starved child's hunger for something that's all hers is doomed to disappointment—in time, Bella escapes to run with the wild horses. Irina has learned her lesson; when, months later, the mare returns to leave a new, injured foal, Irina resolves to care for it but to be prepared to let it go free. Told in spare, graceful language evoking an aura of mystery and meaning, illustrated with frequent, sensitive pencil drawings: a likable tale that would make an interesting prelude to George MacDonald's At the Back of the North Wind (1871). (Fiction. 8-12) Read full book review >
JOSIE SMITH AND EILEEN by Magdalen Nabb
CHILDREN'S
Released: April 30, 1992

``...even if Eileen was horrible sometimes, she was still Josie Smith's best friend,'' concludes this fourth book about a little girl who lives with her mother in an English village. In three long chapters, Josie inadvertently ends by having an impromptu picnic birthday after her mother says they can't afford a party; weathers homesickness when she's left for two nights with Eileen, who has a notably unsympathetic mother; and is unexpectedly given a real bride's bouquet at the end of a day she's spent making costumes and bunches of dandelions in emulation of a neighborhood wedding in which Eileen is taking part. Josie's small troubles and the complications resulting from her imaginative efforts to make up for ``Mom's'' lack of time and money invariably ring true; the lively dialogue, spiced with the petty insults normal children exchange, and the parents' failure to understand that good intentions often have mischievous results are perfectly believable. Simply told, unusually honest, and entirely childlike, fine for independent reading or for sharing with younger children, Josie continues to be a winner. Illustrations not seen. (Young reader. 5-10) Read full book review >
JOSIE SMITH AT SCHOOL by Magdalen Nabb
CHILDREN'S
Released: Dec. 5, 1991

A third book about a likable, strong-minded child who lives in a friendly British village with her ``mom.'' Fans of Josie (Josie Smith, 1989) will remember that, though she's conscientious and well-intentioned, her imagination and persistence tend to get her into amusing trouble. This time, three long episodes involve Josie's abortive attempt to take her new teacher a bouquet; the difficulty of making friends with an Indian classmate who doesn't know English; and a mix-up concerning a class play, when the new haircut Josie at first admires causes her to be drafted for a male role—which turns out to be just one of several miscastings that precipitate a comical epidemic of tears. Nabb's artfully mixed humor and sympathy for childhood's dramas and misunderstandings rivals Cleary's. Her deftly sketched characters, both children and adults, are wonderfully three- dimensional: a martinet of a principal, Josie's wise but not infallible mother, perennial rival/friend Eileen—each is a believable blend of strengths and faults. Again, Vainio's lively drawings capture the essence of the more telling moments. A fine chapter book for newly independent readers. (Fiction. 6-10) Read full book review >