Auntie Poldi and the Sicilian Lions is the first in a series of light mysteries by Mario Giordano featuring the sixty-year-old Isolde Oberreiter (Auntie Poldi) from a Sicilian expatriate family in Germany. A glamorous widow, she’s decided it’s time to die and she’s happy to settle by the sea and drink herself to death. Of course, fate intervenes when Valentino, a young man who has helped her with some the moving in repairs, disappears. She is certain there was foul play and begins trying to find him.
Which she does, coming upon his body and taking the time to look for clues before calling the police. Her father was a homicide detective and Auntie Poldi has obviously learned a lot from him. The lead detective is Vito Montana, a virile and interested man who Poldi wants to best and seduce. Along the course of the investigation, she does both .
I did not like this book as much as I think I should have. It really is perfectly suited for one of those fabulous Masterpiece Mystery series featuring a glamorous older woman whose past is full of mystery, adventure, and bohemian excess. She may be a bit old and creaky with a trick knee, but she’s bright and clever. Somehow, though, it was a bit off for me. It felt almost as though it was being written for a TV series.
The nephew narrator is unnecessary, other than giving her the appellation Auntie. For her to be an auntie, there must be a nephew or niece, but I found him a distraction and annoying. My Aunt Harriet was not my aunt, it can be an honorific.
Here’s the thing, the pilot episode on a TV series can be a bit annoying, full of introduction and character background that is fed to us rather than learned organically. Subsequent episodes can be brilliant because they got that out of the way. I am hoping the same for this series. There was a lot of painting in the background. If Giordano trusts his readers to remember what we have learned and drops that in the future, I am sure the rest of the series will be far better.
I received a copy of Auntie Poldi and the Sicilian Lions from the publisher through NetGalley.
- Auntie Poldi and the Sicilian Lions at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
- Mario Giordano at WorldCat
- Interview with Mario Giordano at Public Libraries Online