The Bitter Taste of Murder

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Kirkus writes: Death toll aside, readers will want to stay in Trinchieri’s charming village as long as possible

The follow-up to Murder in Chianti finds ex-NYPD detective Nico Doyle recruited by Italian authorities to investigate the murder of a prominent wine critic.

One year after moving to his late wife’s Tuscan hometown of Gravigna, ex-NYPD detective Nico Doyle has fully settled into Italian country life, helping to serve and test recipes at his in-laws’ restaurant.

But the town is shaken by the arrival of wine critic Michele Mantelli in his flashy Jaguar. Mantelli holds his influential culinary magazine and blog over Gravigna’s vintners and restaurateurs. Some of Gravigna’s residents are impressed by his reputation, while others are enraged—especially Nico’s landlord, whose vineyards Mantelli seems intent on ruining.

Needless to say, Mantelli’s lavish, larger-than-life, and often vindictive personality has made him many enemies, and when he is poisoned, the local maresciallo, Perillo, has a headache of a high-profile murder on his hands—and once again turns to Nico for help.

Praise for The Bitter Taste of Murder

Kirkus Review:

Review Issue Date: June 15, 2021. Online Publish Date: June 2, 2021

Scandal and murder rock a rustic Italian town. Luckily, a Big Apple sleuth is there to set things right.

After decades as a homicide detective in the Bronx, Nico Doyle is carving out a new life in the idyllic village of Gravigna in the Chianti hills of Tuscany. The latest gossip at Bar All’Angolo, where Nico regularly breakfasts with a group of villagers, revolves around arrogant wine critic Michele Mantelli, who raised local hackles by leaving his Jaguar parked in the middle of the piazza. Nico witnesses Mantelli in action later at Sotto Il Fico, the restaurant belonging to his late wife’s cousin. Mantelli tells the staff to stop buying the inferior wines of Aldo Ferri, who also happens to be Nico’s landlord and friend. Is this the trigger for the very public fight between Aldo and Mantelli that follows? Or is it the rumor that Mantelli’s having an affair with Aldo’s wife, Cinzia? When Mantelli’s car goes off a cliff in a suspicious accident, Aldo immediately becomes the prime suspect in what’s ruled a murder. Nico goes back to his detective roots to exonerate his friend. Trinchieri portrays Nico’s recovery from grief with care; his wife, Rita, is recalled frequently as Nico and OneWag, the dog he adopted during his first Italian case, burrow more deeply into the relaxed life of the village. Nico’s greatest challenge becomes distinguishing between truth and gossip, of which there is no shortage. A second death, at first ruled a suicide, leads the experienced Nico to the killer.

Death toll aside, readers will want to stay in Trinchieri’s charming village as long as possible.

Publishers Weekly:

In Trinchieri’s savory sequel to 2020’s Murder in Chianti, former Bronx homicide detective Nico Doyle, who has been living in his late wife’s hometown of Gravigna, Italy, for the past year, investigates the death of unpopular wine critic Michele Mantelli, who lost control of his car and plunged down a ravine. An autopsy report suggests Mantelli was probably dead before he ran off the road, a victim of methanol poisoning. It appears someone spiked his whiskey with wood ethanol. Maresciallo Salvatore Perillo and his brigadier, Daniele Donato, help sort out the many suspects, who include the victim’s soon-to-be ex-wife, an irate husband who threatened to kill him, several vintners, and Nico’s landlord. Meanwhile, Nico tests recipes at Sotto Il Fico, his wife’s relatives’ restaurant, where he enjoys seven-layer eggplant, zucchini lasagne, almond biscotti, and other treats. Though the mouthwatering cuisine at times distracts from the detective work, Trinchieri generally does a good job balancing food with folly as the action builds to an unexpected but satisfying solution. Fans of Martin Walker’s Bruno Courrèges series should take note. (Aug.)

Washington Post Review:

A young Tuscan police official in Camilla Trinchieri’s second Nico Doyle mystery (following last year’s “Murder in Chianti”) advises the retired NYPD homicide detective that when considering suspects in the poisoning murder of an obnoxious wine critic: “Fry the fish, but watch the cat.” Doyle is a man of kindly but often melancholy temperament — he left New York for Tuscany under a legal cloud and lost his Italian wife, Rita, to cancer. Now he works in Rita’s family restaurant and helps his pal Salvatore Perillo solve crimes. Trinchieri writes two other mystery series under the name Camilla T. Crespi, but this is the one with dishes like spaghetti all’Arrabbiata to savor on nearly every page, adding to the book’s considerable pleasure.

Gumshoe Review:

After reading Camilla Trinchieri’s excellent whodunnit, The Bitter Taste of Murder, I feel as though I’ve just returned from an Italian vacation–one that is affordable and a passport isn’t needed. Trinchieri is a genius at creating a 3D setting and realistic characters. Readers will feel they are actually living in Italy’s wine country, basking in the beauty of the vineyards and listening to the villagers converse with our American hero, Nico Doyle. Because the murder victim was a wine critic, Nico travels to various vineyards where he interviews their vintners. Naturally, there is the consumption of quite a few bottles of wine. However, I soon learned that these Italians also LOVE to eat…

…The mystery itself is a rather complex one. If Agatha Christie had been Italian, she might’ve written a mystery like The Bitter Taste of Murder.

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Booklist Online Review:

Former NYPD homicide detective Nico Doyle has resettled in his late wife’s hometown of Gravigna, Tuscany, filling his days with work in the family restaurant and solving the occasional murder. In this follow-up to Murder in Chianti (2020), renowned wine critic Michele Mantelli sweeps into the village, pressuring Nico’s relatives to order his endorsed wines and creating a stir when local winemaker Aldo Ferri publicly warns him to stay away from his wife, or else. Days later, Mantelli is dead, and his autopsy reveals that he was poisoned. When Perillo, the local carabiniere marshal, is forced to arrest Aldo, Nico promises Aldo to help prove his innocence. Wielding sharp observations and skilled interviews, Nico reveals both tragedy and malevolence in Mantelli’s world, from the critic’s bitter ex-wife to his troubled new girlfriend, the groundskeeper he betrayed, and a handful of vintners he extorted. Nico’s investigations are accompanied by full sensory descriptions of Italian dishes and warm snapshots of Tuscan village life, making Trinchieri’s latest well-crafted mystery should be recommended to readers craving a change of scenery, with likable characters for company.  — Christine Tran