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May 20, 2024

Nonna Maria and the Case of the Lost Treasure by Lorenzo Carcaterra ~ a Review

by Donna Huber

As Nonna Maria's longtime friend and sometimes colleague, Captain Murino of the Ischian carabinieri never wanted to see harm brought to the doorstep of everyone's favorite espresso-brewing, counsel-giving amateur sleuth. But when you live a long life, you're bound to make a few enemies. And when those enemies come calling, you have to rely on friends. Faced with an assassin seeking revenge for a decades-old grudge, Captain Murino has no choice but to turn to Maria, who must use all her neighborly resources, clever faculties, and web of connections to save him from his perilous predicament.

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. A free book was provided for an honest review.

book cover of mystery novel Nonna Maria and the Case of the Lost Treasure by Lorenzo Carcaterra
May 2024; Bantam; 978-0593499214
audio, ebook, print (288 pages); cozy mystery

Nonna Maria and the Case of the Lost Treasure
 is book 3 in Lorenzo Carcaterra's Nonna Maria series. I have read the previous books: the Case of the Missing Bride and the Case of the Stolen Necklace. However, I don't think you have to read the previous books as each story is a stand alone.

I've thought of the series as a cozy mystery previously and in a lot of ways it does read like one. However, this one didn't really have much of a mystery - maybe more a book of suspense but there isn't a lot of tension. There are no dead bodies in this book though there is an assassination attempt. Who is after the captain is revealed pretty early on for the reader so the only suspense there is if the characters will figure it out before it is too late.

You might wonder what assassination has to do with the lost treasure in the title. The lost treasure hunt is a secondary plot. Again there is some mild suspense as Nonna Maria and her friends search old (and dangerous) contraband caves without knowing what they will find. There is a bit of mystery as well, though it isn't the type of mystery where the reader can solve based on clues since we can't actually explore the caves.

It has some hallmarks of a cozy mystery - clean language, little focus on romance (though the captain is engaged), and endearing characters. Often cozy mysteries have a quirky character or two and several of the characters in the book have a few quirks. Nonna Maria only drinks coffee during the day and white win at night (she drinks nothing else) and she only eats and drinks in her own kitchen. Then there are the characters Pepe the Painter, The Magician (a treasure hunter and former runner of contraband), and the Pirate (another treasure hunter and former runner of contraband). The Pirate is usually drunk, lives on a boat, and only wears a bathing suit, a red bandana, and sword.

The story is told in 3rd person but sometimes we are more focused on Nonna Maria and in other chapters it is the captain. It is in one of the captain's chapters were we learn about his take down of a notorious crime boss. It is during this chapter we learn more about what the carabinieri, is. While it is a bit of an info dump it is interesting information so it didn't bother me. What did bother was when the author broke the 4th wall and compared the carabinieri, to "our FBI". It took me out of the story momentarily and I had to work to fully emerse myself in the book again. When I read these books, I'm completely in Italy and to me the narrator is Italian. So the use of "our" was a bit jarring.

If you like a mystery/suspense novel where you are just along for the ride (as opposed to trying to piece the clues together to solve the mystery) with great characters, then this book should definitely be on your summer reading list.

Donna Huber is an avid reader and natural encourager. She is the founder of Girl Who Reads and the author of how-to marketing book Secrets to a Successful Blog Tour.

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