My amoreggiamento with Italian crime fiction…

I write crime fiction. More specifically, I write crime fiction set in Italy and my detective, Milo Peretti, lives and works in Rome. But why? How did I get here? And what makes me write the things I do?

Coming from an Italian background, I suppose choosing Italy as the backdrop isn’t too much of a surprise. I’ve always been very conscious and proud of my family’s roots so it seemed only natural to write about a place that means a lot to me. But why crime? And why Rome? There are plenty of genres other than crime and plenty of other cities besides Rome.

As a boy, I read mainly historical fiction and fantasy. (I genuinely have no idea how many times I read The Chronicles of Narnia.) The closest I ever got to crime fiction was reading Enid Blyton’s Famous Five stories. Then as a teenager, I discovered my Grandad’s Sherlock Holmes collection and was was hooked. I couldn’t get enough mystery and intrigue and raided my local library for more. I read everything. From Ted Dekker, Frederick Forsyth, Sam Bourne and Vince Flynn to Kathy Reichs, Jeffery Deaver, Jonathan Kellerman and Michael Connelly. And so, I guess, when I started to write, I wanted to write the same sort of story as the ones I love to read.

But why Rome? After all, my family originally came from Parma in Emilia-Romagna to the north of Italy. Why not set the story there? Here’s the answer…


Michael Dibdin’s Aurelio Zen. And not even the books. It was the BBC’s TV series that made me fall in love with Rome as the setting for a detective story. There was something about the characters played by Rufus Sewell and Caterina Murino. An air of suave Mediterranean sophistication that most of the fictional detectives I’d come across didn’t have. Unsure why I hadn’t done it before, I devoured books by the Anglo-Italian authors – Michael Dibdin, Donna Leon, Christobel Kent; and the Italian – Andrea Camilleri, Valerio Varesi, Gianrico Carofiglio. And so I discovered a passion for giallo (Italian crime fiction) and, not long afterwards, Milo Peretti came along.

But, enough about me… What makes you read/write the things you do?


Blood Will Tell… Now *FREE* on Kindle!

BLOOD WILL TELL – a short Milo Peretti mystery – is finally available to download for FREE on Kindle!

Download HERE for KINDLE (UK) and HERE for KINDLE (U.S.).

Blood Will Tell is the prequel to the Milo Peretti mystery series…

MILO PERETTI is back in Rome to take over the running of his late uncle’s detective agency. When the body of a businessman is found at an office nearby in Trastevere, the grieving mother refuses to believe her son took his own life. But with the Polizia di Stato preparing to close the case as suicide, will Peretti ever really uncover the truth? And will justice ever be done?

Blood Will Tell

Blood Will Tell… download for FREE!

Finally… My novella/short story, Blood Will Tell is available for FREE download from Kobo and Smashwords! It’s also listed on Amazon (although not free for Kindle – yet!).

Blood Will Tell is the prequel to the Milo Peretti mystery series which tells the story of Rome’s newest private detective. The first full novel is due out in 2014.

In the meantime, here’s the link for you to download Blood Will Tell for FREE:

DOWNLOAD FROM SMASHWORDS (All e-reader formats available – including Kindle, Kobo and Nook!)

and here’s the link for Amazon:


Blood Will Tell

Blood Will Tell…update

Here’s a quick update on where I am on current projects.

Blood Will Tell, the novella which begins the Milo Peretti mystery series will be coming to a Kindle near you very soon… As in, a ‘this week’ kind of very soon! Links to follow. Here’s a sneak preview of the cover:


I’m currently working on the first full Milo Peretti novel. The working title is The Colour of Weeping. It will be out in 2014 but I can’t wait to share it with you all! Watch this space.

The One That Got Away – Flash fiction

So…here’s The One That Got Away

This is my offering for this weeks Blog Hop flash fiction challenge (see Leanne Sype’s original post –

The 5 must-use words were butter, evil, wardrobe, rescue, ballroom. Here’s the picture courtesy of Flikr Commons:

The One That Got Away

‘You be a good girl while I’m gone won’t you, poppet?’
He stroked her cheek with his nasty fingers and she fought the urge to recoil from his touch. If her hands were free, she would have scrubbed at her skin to get rid of the lingering vileness but the ropes held her wrists tightly. Instead she held her breath to block out the smell of his foulness and nodded.
A grin split his face, hideous teeth jutting out like sunken tombstones.
‘That’s right. See, it’s better when we love each other isn’t it?’
His hot breath smelt of stale whiskey and decay. She wanted to be sick but forced herself to smile sweetly into his twisted evil face instead. As if butter wouldn’t melt, her mum always said. Mum. The thought made her throat close up. No. She mustn’t cry. Not in front of him. Not ever.
‘I’ll try not to be away too long, poppet. You’ll be good won’t you?’
She nodded. Anything to get him out of the house. Anything to give her time.
As soon as the  key turned in the lock she started on the knot again. Wriggling, twisting, picking. One free hand; that’s all she needed. Come on. COME ON!
She wrestled with the rope until she was drenched with sweat and on the verge of giving up in despair. Just as she abandoned all hope of escape, she felt the knot give. Not daring to breathe, she made her hand as small as possible and pulled. Inch by inch her hand slipped between the coils until the rope released its hold.
With trembling fingers, she worked to free her other hand. Within a moment or two, she was on her feet and rubbing her wrists to get the feeling back.
She tried the door and window. Both locked. She was still a prisoner inside four bleak walls.
The room was empty apart from the bed, a chair and an old wardrobe. She ran to it and flung open the doors. Empty. Of course it was. He had taken everything. Her clothes. Her shoes. She was never meant to leave so why would she need them again? She looked down at the ancient nightdress he had made her wear. She hated it like she hated him. But better freedom like this than no freedom at all.
Grabbing the chair, she swung at the window. A crack jittered across the glass but the chair bounced back into the room. Strong with desperation she swang again. This time there was a crash and the pane shattered.
Clambering out onto the ledge, a shard of glass caught her leg and drew blood. She ignored it and kept going. A drainpipe ran down the wall an armslength away. She made a wild grab for it and half fell, half slid to the ground.
Trees reached for her with their gnarled branches she ran blindly along the path like Cinderella from the ballroom. Somewhere behind her a twig snapped.

Contains Strychnine – a flash fiction story

‘Right… This is my offering for the Writer Wednesday Blog Hop. Thanks to Leanne Sype for recommending :-)! See Leanne’s blog for more info…

Hope you all enjoy it!


Contains Strychnine

The librarian peered at me over the top of her reading glasses.
‘And what would you be wanting a book about something like that for, young man?’
The fluttering in my belly started again. Maybe she knew. No, that was silly. How could she know? How could she possibly know?
The old woman was still waiting for an answer. And smiling. It was a grandmother kind of smile. At least I think it was. I’d only ever seen photos of mine so I couldn’t be sure.
The librarian waved her hand in front of my eyes and laughed.
‘Sorry. What?’
‘The book. What do you want it for?’
I shrugged and tried to look casual.
‘Just a school project. It’s for chemistry.’
She nodded.
‘OK. I think I can help you. Let’s see what we can find.’
We wandered down the aisles between walls of books. The librarian read the signs under her breath until we reached Science. She stopped and pointed to the fifth shelf.
‘No wonder you couldn’t see them. We keep them out of the reach of inquisitive schoolboys.’
She winked. That made me feel even worse about lying to her.
‘Now, what exactly are you looking for? We’ve got an A to Z of Poisonous Plants, How to Rid your Garden of Rats, Moles and Other Pests, or The Encyclopedia of Toxicology.’
I chose the encyclopedia.
‘It’s an adult book so you won’t be able to take it home, you know.’
I nodded. I didn’t bother telling her I’d never be going home anyway.
She left me to it and I lugged the book to a desk. I flicked through the pages until I reached S. Sarin. Sodium cyanide.
Strychnine. That’s what the box of pesticide said. Contains Strychnine.
I read the list of symptoms. Muscle spasms. Convulsions. I learned that death came eventually either from asphyxiation, whatever that was, or exhaustion from the convulsions. The end would come about two or three hours after exposure to the toxin.
My skin turned ice-cold and I shivered. Two or three hours? I thought it was supposed to be quick. A chill whispered down my neck as I realized. I didn’t care about him but I’d never meant to hurt her. I was protecting her. From him. From what he would have done.
I’d seen it in his eyes. She thought he was The One. After Dad left she thought that about them all. But this one took her out. Fancy meals. Concerts. Hotels. that sort of thing. But I saw through it and he knew. He hated me because I knew what he was. A monster.
My stomach felt like a giant was squeezing it in his fist. I imagined Mum’s face. Serving the food I made them before I left. Dabbing her mouth with a napkin. ‘Like a proper lady’ she’d say. Then, as the poison started to work, writhing and screaming.
I wanted to puke. I grabbed my bag and ran.

Yellow Summer Dress – FLASH FICTION

It was her.
He didn’t need to wait for the dental records or DNA testing. He knew.
He turned away from the white suits of the forensics team and pulled the dog-eared photograph out of his jacket pocket for the millionth time. The girl in the yellow summer dress. With ice-cream on the end of her nose and a smile that put dimples in her cheeks and made him want to smile too. But not today. Today he couldn’t shift that awful feeling of tightness in his throat.
Two-hundred and thirty-six days had been and gone since she disappeared and only a few dozen less had passed since the search had been scaled down. Officially at least. In his mind, though, it had never really stopped. How could it? He had promised the mother he’d bring her little girl home. Perhaps it was small town naiveté but he had never allowed himself to imagine it ending like this. Never lose hope. That’s what he’d told her. And now he would have to snuff out what little she had left.
He wished more than anything else that there was someone else who could tell her but he knew it had to come from him. She deserved that much at least. He slipped the photograph back into his pocket and headed blindly through the trees in the direction of the road.
The officers at the entrance to the woods gave him sympathetic glances as he passed but he ignored them. It was nothing new. He’d been the crazy detective for a while. He’d heard the whispers. He should never have been involved. It was too close to home. It had pushed him over the edge. Sometimes they made him feel like a pariah. Most of the time he didn’t care.
He reached the car and slid behind the wheel. His fingers fumbled with the keys as he tried to start the engine and he punched the dashboard in anger. He had to get away from there. To clear his head. To drive until he could think again. The key finally turned in the ignition and the tires spat gravel as he put his foot to the floor and shot out onto the road.
By the time he realised which way he was driving, he couldn’t have stopped if he wanted to. The car knew the way too well. He pulled into the car park and found his usual space sitting empty. Winding down his window, he filled his lungs with the fresh air and the smell of spring blossom.
He watched as two small children played in the sunshine and the sound of their laughter floated to him on the breeze. Closing his eyes, he let himself imagine it was her. That it had all been nothing more than a bad dream and that when he opened his eyes she would be there. Waiting patiently on the swing as if she’d been there all along.
But, when he looked, the park was empty and the children were running off ahead of their parents in the direction of the ice-cream van. He pulled the photograph out of his pocket again and gazed into those clear blue eyes. His vision blurred until he couldn’t make out her features anymore and her golden hair looked like a halo. A tear fell onto her face but he brushed it away with a gentle finger.
‘I’m sorry, baby. I’m so sorry.’
Then pulling his phone out of his pocket he scrolled through the numbers with unsteady fingers. Until he found the name he’d been looking for. The screen waited for his response to a question he never wanted to answer. Call Home?