Italian author Quadruppani’s first appearance in English asks who’s disrupting both the beekeepers of Piedmont and their hives.
Now that she’s lost the argument with her husband, retired police chief Marco Tavianello, about vacationing in the mountains rather than at the seaside—the first of many droll arguments between the bickering leads—Commissario Simona Tavianello, of Rome’s National Antimafia Commission, expects that at least she’ll be able to relax and enjoy herself. She doesn’t reckon with the corpse she and Marco will discover inside beekeeper Giovanni Minoncelli’s honey shop. Even worse, police officer Maresciallo Calabonda takes a lively interest in keeping Simona local, partly due to her celebrity-cop status and partly due to the ballistics tests showing that the victim, gay engineer Maurizio Bertolazzi, was shot to death with Simona’s own gun. How and why did the killer purloin the weapon from her lockbox as she slept? How does the death of the man charged with commercializing the Sacropiano Corporation’s genetically modified seeds and pesticides fit into the intricate dance among beekeepers, police functionaries, industrialists and eco-terrorists? Why have the local bees been afflicted by colony collapse disorder? And how on earth is Simona going to keep out of the limelight when everyone involved in the case, from Maurizio’s lover, Albanian shepherd Mehmet Berisha, to nationally known bee researcher—a certified schizophrenic—seems determined to keep her at its center?
Quadruppani is better at raising questions large and small than settling them, and his ending is marked by a distinct sense of anticlimax. Along the way, however, readers can expect the trademark pleasures of the Italian countryside: great scenery, great food and great conversazione.