Cold Tuscan Stone-David P. Wagner

Cold Tuscan Stone
David P. Wagner
Poisoned Pen, Sep 1 2013, $24.95
ISBN 9781464201929

Six months ago, Rick Montoya left Santa Fe to become a translator in Italy as he speaks fluent English and Italian since his dad worked for the American Foreign Service and his mom is a Roman. Upon arrival, he met with his basketball schoolmate at the American Overseas School of Rome, Beppo Rinaldi, who surprisingly didn’t join the affluent family business but instead works for the Ministry of Culture.

Beppo asks Rick to help him uncover the thieves taking valuable Etruscan relics from a tomb in Volterra and the forgers copying the originals. Rick agrees to masquerade as a New Mexico gallery agent. He travels to Tuscany where Rick chats briefly with a gallery employee who immediately afterward falls to his death. Commissario Carlo Conti suspects Rick killed the man while a horde of mostly unsavory people make contact with the American. Finally his friend La Sapienza Art History Professor Erica Pedana comes from Rome though Montoya wonders if it is for him, the art or something unsavory; while the local cops and the artifact traffickers target Rick too.

The first Rick Montoya Italian Mystery is an entertaining undercover investigative thriller due to a strong cast of thieves, forgers, and legitimate dealers while the translator and the Commissario complement each other. Action-packed readers will enjoy David P. Wagner’s modern day art history in Tuscany.

Harriet Klausner

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