THE MARSHAL AND THE MADWOMAN by Magdalen Nabb

THE MARSHAL AND THE MADWOMAN

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A wispy sixth outing for Marshal Guarnacci, the Florentine Maigret, who spends August sweating and fretting through a steamy, near-deserted city. Teaching his wife to drive, Marshal is suddenly careened into a Square disturbance: crazy Clementina, near-naked and obstreperous, is loony again. Franco, the local bar owner and unofficial ""mayor"" of the Square, befriends Guarnacci, and a week later reports to him that Clementina is dead--murdered, he says, though someone faked suicide (her head was stuck in a gas oven). Quietly going about this police business, Guarnacci then learns that: Clementina was recently threatened by a man with a limp; her apartment was burgled, twice; she was fired as cleaning lady at a dress manufacturing business owned by Carlo Fantechi; she didn't pay rent on her apartment; and she had been an asylum inmate for many years after the terrible flood of '66. Eventually, Clementina's full past is revealed--which includes a husband and a child who drowned in the flood, a sister who protected her until her own death, and a greedy, flashily remarried brother-in-law, who cheated her of her full pension rights, and worse. Slow to the point of inertia, with a plot skimpy even by Nabb's standards. Intriguing glimpses, however, of life in Florence during and just after that terrible flood; there's also much rich local color, and Guarnacci's gruffness is tempered here by concern for a wounded young recruit. Overall: small, neat, atmospheric, mysteryless.

Pub Date: Dec. 2nd, 1988
Publisher: Scribners