Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Delayed Death by Beate Boeker

Delayed Death is Book #1 in the Temptation in Florence Series, a cozy murder mystery romance series with a strong dose of humor.  The title of the series comes from the lingerie store that the protagonist, Carlina, owns and runs, Temptation, on one of Florence, Italy's, premier shopping streets.

The Temptation in Florence Series follows the life, adventures and loves of Italian-American Carlina, and of her extended eccentric Italian family, many of whom live in apartments in the same building in central Florence as Carlina and her mother.  Carlina's U.S. American father passed away when Carlina was in her teens, after which her Italian mother moved back to Italy with Carlina and her two siblings.

The mixed heritage shows in Carlina's unusual sense of humor that has a rich sense of the absurd.  She is also lacking in ego, which makes Carlina something of a willing doormat for her strong-willed relations.  The family's eccentric members and their whims and wishes are a never-ending source of amusement for Carlina.  While often treated like the family's Cinderella, Carlina is also a sexy, saucy, funny thirty-two-year-old woman.

When a crisis occurs, right at the beginning of Delayed Death, and Carlina gives in to her domineering cousin's wishes, Carlina sets herself on a collision course with police Commissario Stefano Garini.  The no-nonsense policeman is immediately mystified by Carlina's oddball family, and very taken by Carlina's refreshingly down-to-earth looks and her refreshingly honorable and entertaining character.  Garini muses:
...Carlina with her cat-like eyes who didn't fit into any category he knew.

Here is the book series' quick, cute 1 minute trailer:

Commissario Garini is a battered idealist.  He strives for justice and stability in his world.  He can be impatient, businesslike, quiet, serious and dangerously observant--dangerous for Carlina anyway.  Their relationship provides the sparks in Delayed Death, with each of their interactions entertainingly told by the author, sometimes from Carlina's perspective, and sometimes from dryly humorous Stefano Garini's perspective.

There is a lovely scene with the eccentric and unpredictable Stefano Garini, and his chief murder suspect, Carlina.  Stefano, struggling against his attraction to Carlina, asks Carlina why she liked her eccentric and unpredictable grandfather, the murder victim.  Carlina answers:
It wasn't always easy to live with him, but at least it was never boring.
Stefano recognizes immediately that the same statement could apply to himself.  It is the moment he realizes that he and Carlina might actually be a good match.  Carlina continues to proudly describe her grandfather, until she is hit by the realization that her beloved grandfather was very similar in character to the Commissario questioning her, causing her to rethink her evaluation of the man.

The English in Delayed Death is easy to read and well-edited.  The cover is very eye-catching, as are the covers of each book in the series.  There are interesting contrasting characters, lovely Florentine locations, gentle humor, and an entertaining possible love match that rings true.  Love of beautiful Florence is something that Carlina and Stefano share.  Stefano Garini observes at one point:
The beauty of Florence made up for many ugly things he saw in his work.
If you've never been to Florence, Italy, or have been and wish for a reminder of her beauty, here is a two minute video postcard of Florence:


The story builds nicely and keeps the action varied with enjoyable interplay between the oddball characters, and especially between Carlina and Stefano.  The Temptation lingerie shop offers lots of opportunity for laughs, among the panties, bras and thongs. 

My only reservation is the abrupt ending.  I wanted to hear from the killer how the killings were done and why they were committed.  The love-story felt unresolved, too, at the end.  Perhaps the author wanted to leave that for the next book in the series?  I'll have to read them to find out.

The books in the Temptation in Florence Series are:
  1. Delayed Death
  2. Charmer's Death
  3. Banker's Death
  4. Expected Death

From the description of Book 1, Delayed Death:
What do you do when you find your grandfather dead half an hour before your cousin's wedding?  You hide him in his bed and tell everyone he didn't feel like coming.
Delayed Death is a mystery set in Florence, Italy.  When Carlina finds her grandfather dead on the day of her cousin's wedding, she decides to hide the corpse until after the ceremony.  However, her grandfather was poisoned, and she becomes the attractive Inspector's prime suspect.
On top of that, she has to manage her boisterous family and her luxurious lingerie store called Temptation, a juggling act that creates many hilarious situations.

From the description of Book 2, Charmer's Death (reviewed on this site):
What do you do when your best customer seduces your beautiful cousin? You try to save the situation, but it becomes a little harder than planned when he's found strangled with a pair of brand new pantyhose that come straight from your own store Temptation - the most luxurious lingerie store in Florence, Italy.

Next, a disturbing diary crops up that lists the former lovers of the dead man, creating chaos in more than one home. Carlina has her hands full with managing her store at its peak season, preparing the Christmas fair, and dodging her mother, who has discovered fortune telling as the next big thing. Her feelings for the attractive Inspector Garini don't help at all as she desperately tries to find the murderer before it's too late.

From the description of Book 3, Banker's Death:
When Carlina's attractive cousin Valentino returns from Dubai to Florence, he quickly becomes the most unpopular member of the wide-spread Mantoni family.  Plenty of people have reason to hate him, and when he turns up stabbed a short time later, Commissario Garini, now officially Carlina's boyfriend, only wants to turn and run.  However, he's forced to take on the case and soon realizes that even Carlina doesn't tell him the full truth. This puts their relationship under immense strain.
At the same time, Carlina's mother develops an extreme health food passion that revolts the whole family.  Then another, seemingly unrelated, murder of a circus clown drops into their laps and Garini has to hurry to connect all the clues before things spiral out of control.

From the description of Book 4, Expected Death:
When Uncle Teo falls in love on his eightieth birthday, his family is in an uproar because his new girlfriend has an astonishing talent for making enemies.  Before long, murder is in the air, and when she is indeed found dead at the foot of the historical San Niccolò Tower, the Mantoni family has to answer some uncomfortable questions.
Commissario Stefano Garini is forced to investigate the murder against his will, hoping that his relationship with Carlina will withstand the strain of another murder investigation in her family.

Here are links to the four books at Amazon.com:

Here are some links to the author's other books at Amazon.com:

Please visit the author's website and Facebook page.

Carlina has cat-like eyes, much like Sophia Loren, and they drive Stefano crazy!

I have a review of another of Beate Boeker's books on this site:   A New Life.

This review is by Candida Martinelli, of Candida Martinelli's Italophile Site, and the author of the cozy-murder-mystery novel AN EXTRA VIRGIN PRESSING MURDER, and the young-adult/adult mystery novel series THE VIOLET STRANGE MYSTERIES the first book of which is VIOLET'S PROBLEM.

1 comment:

  1. I've read all three of the Temptation in Florence books and can tell you that all are delightful.