DEATH OF AN ENGLISHMAN by Magdalen Nabb

DEATH OF AN ENGLISHMAN

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KIRKUS REVIEW

An award-winning mystery debut from Britain--woefully weak on plot, gracefully strong on setting (Florence), mild comedy (an eccentric character or two), and the low-key charm of Italian and British cops working together. The dead Englishman is enigmatic A. Langley-Smythe, a 60-ish loner who lived for years in a small Florence apartment-house . . . where he's now been found shot to death. And, since Langley-Smythe's brother-in-law back in England is a government type fearful of scandal, oldish Lowestoft and youngish Jeffreys of Scotland Yard are dispatched to Florence to help the police Captain and his underling, Carabiniere Bacci. The suspects, however, are nil--till an upstairs neighbor (garrulous Englishwoman Miss White, custodian of the one-room Walter Savage Landor museum) comments on the frequent furniture-moving in the dead man's apartment . . . which leads to an extensive red-herring stakeout and minor-crime grab. And the actual story of the murder comes out in one long clump of revelation at the end--hardly satisfying for those partial to fair-play deduction. Still: there are genial glimpses of English expatriate life in Florence here (a dotty vicar, a pathetic library); the Italian/British interplay--especially the chumship between the two younger cops--is quietly witty; and the non-tourist side of the city is nicely captured, from Christmas-tree sellers to come-as-you-are restaurants. A pleasant blend of place and character, then--but distinctly short on mystery, suspense, and bona fide sleuthing.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1982
Publisher: Scribners