Nonna Maria and the Case of the Lost Treasure

Lorenzo Carcaterra brings readers back to the sun-drenched Italian island of Ischia in his charming third Nonna Maria mystery, Nonna Maria and the Case of the Lost Treasure. The titular sleuth, a widow devoted to espresso, wine, and cooking elaborate meals for her family, helps her friends solve two mysteries that turn out to be intertwined. Carcaterra (Three Dreamers) pays tribute to his grandmother, the real-life Nonna Maria, through his fictional amateur detective's clever actions and delectable cooking.

Paolo Murino, a captain in the national Carabinieri police force, has found both love and solace on Ischia after moving there eight years earlier. But someone still has it out for him. Determined not to put Nonna Maria in danger, he warns her against getting involved, but Nonna Maria is equally determined that no one will harm her friend. At the same time, a local young woman named Rita comes to Nonna Maria with a hand-drawn map. Her recently deceased grandfather, Paolino, supposedly hid a priceless treasure in the island's network of caves, and Rita wants help in finding it.

Like life on the island, Carcaterra's plot moves at a leisurely pace, with occasional dramatic moments (like a fender bender and a fireworks display) and plenty of delicious meals, most cooked by Nonna Maria. Nonna Maria, with her ever-present black tote bag, dispenses wisdom and wine to her friends, and though the dramatic tension escalates, readers can predict correctly that the narrative will end with a celebratory feast. With wry humor and a vividly realized setting, Nonna Maria's third adventure feels both cinematic and cozy--a treat for mystery lovers and Italophiles. --Katie Noah Gibson, blogger at Cakes, Tea and Dreams

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