A stint as interpreter for an American businessman brings both challenges and pleasures for well-traveled Rick Montoya (Return to Umbria, 2016, etc.).
Although based in Rome, Rick takes assignments all over Italy: Tuscany, Umbria, and now Mantova, home to fabulous food and notable art. The timing couldn’t be better, since Rick’s romance with art investigator Betta Innocenti has hit a rocky patch, and the chance to get away from his family’s queries about their relationship is most welcome. His temporary employer, Angelo Rondini, is a little rough around the edges, and from the time he arrives in a private jet, he lets Rick know who’s paying the freight. But Angelo also seems to have a soft spot both for Italy, which he left as a toddler, and his cousin Livia Guarino, the daughter of his late cousin, Roberto Rondini. Roberto’s funeral is the reason for Angelo’s visit, though he also jumps at the chance to see the murals in Andrea Mantegna’s famous palazzo. Rick doesn’t mind seeing the paintings, or eating leisurely lunches with his boss, or getting to know Angelo’s assistant—cool, competent Alexis Coleman—a little better. But when the local police ask him to nose around Latteria Rondini, the dairy farm Livia inherited from her father, to see whether Roberto’s death by drowning really was an accident, Rick suddenly finds himself on what just might be a one-way trip out of town.
Wagner’s fifth series entry provides his usual deft mix of art, travel, and suspense.