A bambino bamboozle leads to kidnapping, murder, and a serious reassessment of an old family fortune.
The centuries-old de Grazia family, now down to a mere dozen survivors, is suddenly one member closer to extinction. Sixteen-year-old Achille has been kidnapped and is being held for a ransom of five million Euros, a little too rich for his dad Vincenzo, the force behind Aurora Construzioni. Even more troubling, human remains have been found at an Aurora building site, and Colonel Caravale of the carabinieri fears they may belong to the teenager. Luckily, a distant de Grazia relative, camping tour leader Phil Boyjian, has arrived on the shores of Lake Maggiore with his good friends Julie and Gideon Oliver. Since Gideon is a famous forensic anthropologist (Skeleton Dance, 2000, etc.), Caravale asks him to help. Mama Mia! Those bones actually belong to long-dead family patriarch Domenico, supposedly lost in a boating accident. While Phil reconnects with his childhood crush and Julie minds the campers and the remaining de Grazias bicker and snipe and finagle each other’s finances, Gideon is nearly strangled and a doctor is slain, but not before his journal reveals The Truth about Achille’s ordeal and Vincenzo and Phil’s births, leading to a wildly improbable confrontation with an embittered de Grazia.
The prologue, alas, tells all. But stick around for those Italian dinners, which are superb.