This July our book of the month is a charming and witty crime novel published by Bitter Lemon Press. The first in a new series by Mario Giordana, Auntie Poldi and the Sicilian Lions introduces readers to the title character, Auntie Poldi, a sixty year old widow and amateur sleuth. She is an unforgettable character, strong-willed and intentionally overdressed with a razor sharp tongue and a fondness for alcohol. Along with a colourful supporting cast and a remarkably vivid Sicilian setting, Auntie Poldi and the Sicilian Lions is the ideal summer read.
The story begins when Auntie Poldi finds the body of a young man on a beach. He has been shot. She has just moved to Sicily to quietly drink herself to death with a sea view, but the discovery brings her more than she bargained for when she becomes a potential murder suspect. The detective assigned to the case, Commissario Montana, turns out to be very handsome, and after a few initial misunderstandings, the two form both a romantic and investigative partnership while trying to find the culprit in a narrative that twists and turns through the Sicilian landscape.
Sicily provides a glorious backdrop for the characters, who chat with locals about food, family, and murder. The sun is shining while the islanders discuss where to buy the best olives, which remote village sells the best pastries, who they believe could have killed a young man with a sawn-off shotgun. For any readers planning to visit Italy – or indeed anywhere in the Mediterranean – this summer, there is no better read than this. And for readers looking for a break from the English summer, Giordana’s evocative depiction of Sicily and Italian culture is pure escapism.
The son of Italian immigrants, Giordana grew up in Germany and has written books for young adults, as well as several screenplays. Auntie Poldi has been translated by award-winning, Dorset-based translator John Brownjohn. The novel has been called “The perfect summer mystery comedy” by Donna Magazine, with “an infectious mix of joie de vivre and a hilarious new detective character.” The Main Post wrote of the book “The novel delivers a lovable eccentric protagonist, a hilarious plot and much witty dialogue.” For fans of Andrea Camilleri’s Inspector Montalbano books, it’s a great start to a new series, one that will surely have readers looking forward to reading the books that follow.
- Bill Godber, MD.