By Mario Giordano
A book review by Jackie Houchin
Lists. This book has a lot of lists, short ones, and those that go on for pages, such as the one when Uncle Martino pontificates on an encyclopedia of things he knows while driving his nephew (the narrator) around the island of Sicily. Some lists are shorter and I will power through them, but sone I just skip over. I’m sure I miss something important, but only a re-read will tell.
As I mentioned, the narrator is an aimless young man who aspires to write a great family novel, but hasn’t gotten his thoughts together enough to begin so far – or is this book, THAT one? He acts as chauffeur, companion, and sounding board to his widowed Aunt Poldi, a BRASH, outspoken 60-year old woman who constantly wears a great ugly wig (no one knows why) and consumes enough alcohol in various forms, to kill a half dozen mafioso hitmen!
Her goal in buying the small house in Sicily is to drink herself to death while facing the sea. However, when her handsome young day worker (Valentino, no less) goes missing, she makes it her business to discover what happened to him. Her only clue to begin with is a small mosaic tile and the name Feminamorta.
Aunt Poldi turns out to be quite the investigator and is able to hold off on the liquor for days at a time when concentrating on the case. She enlists the help of her three sisters as well. And then there is the handsome, sexy, police commissari. Does she help or hinder him?
I recommend AUNTIE POLDI AND THE VANISHING LIONS to readers who love Sicily and complicated, well-written mysteries. AND, who do not mind a few “choice” words, a lot of alcohol drinking, and some colorful, adjective-replete, but not “too” graphic or numerous sex scenes.
FOUR STARS — because I love good mysteries, enjoyed visiting Sicily, but don’t care so much for the other things.