The book is set in 1895 in Italy and it shows the world of the aristocrat in the newly unified Italy. The amateur detective here is the real life writer, Pellagrino Artusi, who wrote the first Italian cookbook which included recipes from all parts of Italy. Artusi, who was from Emilia-Romagna, wrote The Science of Cooking and the Art of Eating Well.
In this tale he is visiting a Tuscan castle belonging to a baron Romualdo Bonianti. The author satirises the rigid social classes of 19th century Italy. This imaginary family includes two dysfunctional sons, their elderly, crippled grandmother and two unfortunate old maids - all are trapped by the outdated social code. When Artusi arrives at the castle expecting to enjoy interesting food he finds that the death of a servant has led to the involvement of the local police inspector and that another crime will follow. The interplay of these eccentric characters is enjoyable with Artusi considering the events in the light of his current reading of the adventures of a famous English fictional detective.
A solution to the crime is found and the story finished with a flourish, as a number of recipes for period dishes are described.
Rviewer: Jennifer S. Palmer
Marco Malvedi has 2 other detective stories that have also been translated by Howard Curtis. These 2 both concern amateur sleuth and batman Massimo and his friends