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Death of an Englishman (Marshal Guarnaccia Mystery #1)

3.53  ·  Rating Details  ·  666 Ratings  ·  89 Reviews
It is just before Christmas and the marshal wants to go South to spend the holiday with his wife and family, but first he must recover from the flu (which has left the Florentine caribinieri short-handed) and also solve a murder. A seemingly respectable retired Englishman, living in a flat on the Via Maggio near the Santa Trinita bridge, was shot in the back during the nig ...more
Paperback, 208 pages
Published July 1st 2003 by Soho Crime (first published 1981)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,508)
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Cathy Cole
May 08, 2014 Cathy Cole rated it really liked it
At first, I was somewhat stunned when I realized that most of the action in this book would take place while the marshal-- the main character-- is flat on his back in bed. But then I fell under the spell of Magdalen Nabb's Florence. This slim volume contains an entire feast of the streets and neighborhoods of the city, of the Italian way of life, of the keen observation of people's behavior and habits, that I willingly let Guaraccia recuperate while I did my own observing and putting clues toget ...more
Joyce Lagow
Apr 20, 2010 Joyce Lagow rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery, guarnaccia
1st in the Marshal Guarnaccia series.[return][return]Magdalen Nabb s superb Italian police procedural series, set in Florence, has only relatively recently been reissued by SoHo Crime press. For a long time, the books were out of print. Upon re-issue, the series began to be advertised as the Marshal Guarnaccia series, based on the emergence of Guarnaccia, in later books, as a most engaging protagonist. [return][return]In truth, the first books did not especially feature Guarnaccia. In this, the ...more
Mamie
Jan 26, 2014 Mamie rated it really liked it
Having read all the Donna Leon books I thought I'd try Marshal Guarnaccia books. Like the Leon books, there are several threads going on..perhaps in this book more than some others. I enjoy police procedurals where you are also getting depictions of the other pursuits of the main characters. Ian Rankin also a favorite.
Cathy
Jul 25, 2011 Cathy rated it it was ok
The book looked interesting, the jacket blurbs that raved about the author were from writers I really like, but I found this not that interesting and hard to follow. I also didn't feel like I got much local color on Florence, and the setting had been one of the things that appealed to me. I doubt I'd read this author again.
Jan C
Jan 14, 2014 Jan C rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, italy, 2014
First in a series. Takes place in Florence. Fairly short. Once I got into it, relatively enjoyable.

Of course there are a few false/questionable trails. You think the case is about one thing and then it appears to be about something totally different.
Nancy Oakes
Rarely do I give a series opener higher than 3.5 points, but this one is well worth the extra ratings point. This first entry was very well written, so much so that I bought a copy of the 2nd installment in the series, which is out of print and so cost some $. It was worth it...generally I've found that series mysteries only get better after the first one.

On to this one:
It's Christmas, and everyone in Florence is rushing off to go somewhere for the holidays, including Marshal Salvatore Guarnacci
...more
Susan Oleksiw
Dec 12, 2012 Susan Oleksiw rated it liked it
I picked this book up on the spur of the moment and am glad I did. This is the first in the Marshal Guarnaccia series, though the marshal appears very little in it. The author uses a number of police and officials to conduct the investigation and solve the murder of a reclusive Englishman living in Florence in retirement, after a career in the diplomatic service. There is much about the marshal's mode of investigation that I enjoyed, and for that reason alone I'll continue to read the series. I ...more
Danielle
Jun 27, 2011 Danielle rated it liked it
3.5 out of 5

I thoroughly enjoyed Magdalen Nabb’s Death of an Englishman, which is a traditional murder mystery set in the beautiful city of Florence. I suspect the setting had a lot to do with my enjoyment (and wishful thinking that I was there now rather than here). It’s strange to think of Florence as a small town, since I’ve only seen it from an outsider’s perspective as a tourist, yet you get a sense reading the novel that Florence is in actuality a small community where everyone knows every
...more
Caroline
May 08, 2011 Caroline rated it really liked it
Shelves: murder-mystery
The first in the Marshal Guarnaccia series makes a promising start. Set in Florence, the marshal wants nothing more than to head home to Sicily for the Christmas holidays but is laid low with the flu. Desperately trying to recover in order that he may return to his family for the holidays, he is called out to a murder site... an Englishman had been shot in the back, the murder weapon is missing and there are no apparent clues.

It turns out the man is from a well-connected family in England, and
...more
Urenna Sander
Jul 18, 2015 Urenna Sander rated it really liked it
This is the first in a series of Florentine murder mysteries. Sicilian, Marshal Guarnaccia, is employed as a police investigator in Florence, Italy.
A murder is committed, but the Marshal is ill with the flu. Carabiniere Bacci, a police trainee, is assigned to work with the Marshal. However, while the Marshal recovers, Bacci is indispensable in assisting The Captain, as a translator when two English detectives arrive from Scotland Yard. The English detectives were dispatched to Florence because
...more
Chris
Nov 10, 2013 Chris rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery
Full review at Booklikes

A lovely little mystery.

After reading this, I have to wonder why this hasn’t been adapted to film or shown on PBS. It’s great. It’s funny that the series is named after the Marshal because he spends most of the time sick in bed.


. . .
Susan
Jul 17, 2013 Susan rated it liked it
Shelves: mysteries, italy
Set in Florence in the late 1950's, Death of an Englishman is a pleasant, evocative mystery whose characters are rendered to some extent more deeply and sensitively than stereotypes. Nabb leaves clues if you wish to follow them.
Jesus Flores
An Englishman dies in Florence, and Carabiniere Bacci, an Italian police captain, and with the help of two Scotland Yard agent investigate what starts as a murder and soon evolves into an art traffic thing.
Nice mystery, and I was thinking all the time someone else was the killer, I was like Carabiniere Bacci, not seeing the so obvious detail that the Marshall used to find the real killer

Now as or the setting, we get to see British people in Florence through the eyes of Bacci, and Florence throug
...more
Italo Italophiles
Aug 20, 2014 Italo Italophiles rated it really liked it
Marshal Guarnaccia is modest and unambitious, yet he nevertheless succeeds in resolving very difficult cases throughout this entertaining series. Guarnaccia uses plodding police work, helped by moments of inspiration. He is foremost, however, a policeman who is tempered in all things by his deep compassion.

I've read the first book in this series and The Marshal's Own Case, and I enjoyed both of them very much. At times I wanted to shake the Marshal to snap him out of his reveries, but then when
...more
Kirsty Darbyshire

[My comments are taken from a mailing list discussion and as such contain spoilers!]

[on the setting]

I'm about halfway through and I'm finding that Florence is coming more alive the further I read. I like the way that I don't feel like I'm on a sightseeing tour but that it's the accumulation of small details, like having to do removals and street cleaning in the middle of the night in order to avoid blocking the narrow streets, that are really bringing the scenery to life for me.

I also like th

...more
Babette
Sep 19, 2008 Babette rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery-suspense
I believe I got a recommendation for this book from a fellow reader on Goodreads. I was not disappointed - in fact, I was very pleased and have reserved the next book in this series at my library.
I read this book four days after returning from a trip to Florence, so the descriptions and moods of the city depicted in the book were familiar and enjoyable, even though the season was different. Likewise, the descriptions of the people, their culture and behaviors, reinforced my own perceptions.
The c
...more
Bev
Sep 25, 2011 Bev rated it liked it
Chosen originally as an "N" author for the A-Z Mystery Author Challenge, Death of an Englishman by Magdalen Nabb will also come in handy for the Crime on a Europass Challenge. Nabb's debut novel features Marshal Salvatore Guarnaccia of the Carabinieri. The Marshal is a Sicilian stationed in Florence, Italy and now that it is Christmas-time, he is looking forward to heading South and spending the holidays with his wife and family. However, before he can board the train a nasty bout of flu hits hi ...more
Monica
Dec 20, 2009 Monica rated it liked it
This is the first book in Nabb's detective series about Marshal Guarnaccia and after reading it...i'll be moving on to the next book in the series.

There are two reasons i started reading this book: 1) i'm always ready for a new detective series, and 2) most of this series takes place in Florence, Italy...where i was fortunate to be able to spend two weeks this past autumn. Wherever the storyline took the characters i was able to picture exactly what it looked like. I fell in love with Florence a
...more
LJ
DEATH OF AN ENGLISHMAN (Trad. Mystery/Pol. Proc-Marshal Guarnaccia-Italy-Cont) – G+
Nabb, Magdalen – 1st in series
Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1981, US Hardcover – ISBN: 0684177579

First Sentence: The small office was in darkness, except where the red night lamp stood by the telephone on the desk, and the white kid gloves lying on top of a sheaf of papers within the patch of light were flushed pink.

Marshal Guiarnaccia is a Carabiniere stationed in Florence. He wants to get home for Christmas with his
...more
Spuddie
#1 Marshal Guarnaccia mystery, featuring this Carabinieri stationed in Florence, Italy. It's Christmas Eve, the Marshal has a terrible case of flu, and he's planning to head south to visit family for the holidays, but a murdered Englishman who had retired to live there in Italy takes precedence.

A somewhat pudgy man with an eye condition that makes them water profusely in any sort of sunlight, the Marshal actually sleeps through much of the beginning stages of the investigation, so wracked with
...more
Mary Warnement
I don't know why I didn't read Nabb years ago. I glanced at the first pages many years ago, perhaps the December setting and ill main character turned me away. But I'll read more. This was certainly evocative of Florence, and that's one reason I enjoy mysteries set in foreign places. I wish to visit in my imagination. She caught human foibles in only a few sentences and made her characters seem real. I look forward to reading more of Nabb's Florence.
Megan
Dec 09, 2014 Megan rated it it was ok
Shelves: mystery
I am not very good at guessing who the murderer is when I read mystery novels. I got tricked by a Patricia Cornwell novel earlier this year, and Dorothy Sayers' excellent novels always baffled me - that's part of the fun. But in this novel, I guessed the murderer. The depictions of Florence are delightful; the characters are nice enough; but the novel itself was difficult to keep track of and the plot was poorly constructed.
Connie
Mar 29, 2016 Connie rated it liked it
I think I may have read this book ten years ago because it seemed very familiar. The setting is Florence and the Marshal is sick for the first two-thirds of the book. I know this is the first of a series and perhaps the others are better, but I did not find this an impressive read. My book group on Friday will be comparing and contrasting this with one of the Donna Leon's which are set in Venice.
Marilyn
Dec 21, 2014 Marilyn rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Not sure how to review this book; too short, more of novella.
Rather a strange cast of characters, hard to get into to start, but setting wonderful - Florence, Italy, which made for some comfort. The mystery and the Italian and British police people were somewhat stereotyped, and perhaps that was what was bothersome for me. Still, it was an ok read overall.
John E
May 24, 2016 John E rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a great little introduction to Italy and the Italian criminal justice system.. With very few exceptions, all the characters are the kind of people I would like to know and spend time with (even the visiting Scotland Yard officers become softened in Florence). Easily readable in an evening and well worth the time.
pdarnold
The style of writing came off a bit choppy. While in the middle of one thought it jumps to another. Took a bit for me to adjust to the rhythm. I do believe my favorite character was Mrs. White. Quirky, maybe a bit batty, but she's a hoot!

This wasn't a book I "had" to read... just a bit longer before I could put it down. I was able to walk away, and a while later pick it up and read a bit again and then put it back down. Normally, for me that would mean the book's a snoozer, but not so with this
...more
Mary Havlovic
Aug 16, 2015 Mary Havlovic rated it liked it
Shelves: mystery, murder
Hard to follow, the Marshall was sick throughout the whole book. Once the killer was identified, the story just dropped off and ended. Almost did not finish this one but felt that I should give it a chance. Maybe someone else will enjoy it. Too slow for me.
Cateline
The first half of this Florence, Italy based mystery is rather slow and uninteresting. As it is a fairly short book, I persevered and was rewarded with a fast paced second half. Billed as "A Marshal Guarnaccio Investigation", the Marshal was pretty much AWOL till the last quarter, but was quite a character. It is hoped he is more predominately featured in the rest of the series.

The title, Death of an Englishman pretty much tells it all, mysterious death, lots of suspects, stolen artwork, red her
...more
Jennifer Kepesh
Jun 13, 2015 Jennifer Kepesh rated it really liked it
Recommended to Jennifer by: Shelly
The murder mystery is only an excuse to show off arcane corners of Italian society, especially policing. Like many dishes, it is more delicious a few days after you first read it, as all the depictions sink in.
Bruce Retallack
Mar 07, 2015 Bruce Retallack rated it liked it
A lovely traditional mystery with some nicely evocative passages about Florence and its people. Basically, nothing at all wrong with it, but somehow nothing particularly striking either.
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94387
MAGDALEN NABB was born in Lancashire in 1947 and trained as a potter. In 1975 she abandoned pottery, sold her home and her car, and came to Florence with her son, knowing nobody and speaking no Italian. She has lived there ever since, and pursues a dual career as crime writer and children's author.

She has written fourteen crime novels featuring Marshal Guarnaccia of the carabinieri, all set in Flo
...more
More about Magdalen Nabb...

Other Books in the Series

Marshal Guarnaccia Mystery (1 - 10 of 14 books)
  • Death of a Dutchman (Marshal Guarnaccia Mystery, #2)
  • Death in Springtime (Marshal Guarnaccia Mystery, #3)
  • Death in Autumn (Marshal Guarnaccia Mystery, #4)
  • The Marshal and the Murderer (Marshal Guarnaccia Mystery, #5)
  • The Marshal and the Madwoman (Marshal Guarnaccia Mystery, #6)
  • The Marshal's Own Case (Marshal Guarnaccia Mystery, #7)
  • The Marshal Makes His Report (Marshal Guarnaccia Mystery, #8)
  • The Marshal at the Villa Torrini (Marshal Guarnaccia Mystery, #9)
  • The Monster of Florence
  • Property of Blood

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