The Bishop’s Bedroom – by Piero Chiara

This classic Italian murder mystery was first published in Italy in 1976. The novel was an instant bestseller and its popularity caught the attention of the Italian film director Dino Risi. Risi created a film script faithful to the novel’s plot and recruited two of Italy’s top actors of the 1970’s: Ugo Tognazzi and Ornella Muti to play the main characters.

The novel centers around the main character of Marco Maffei, who somewhat like the character of Nick in The Great Gatsby, is part observer and part participant in the plot the develops on the shores of beautiful Lake Maggiore in northern Italy. The story takes place immediately after WWII, in a part of Italy that was still reeling from the physical and psychological damages of the war. The descriptive imagery of the natural scenery, the lakeside villas, and the joys of sailing are all used to create an intoxicating and romantic atmosphere – one that is aptly used by the author to create a contrast as the mood darkens and a possible murder suddenly occurs.

The twists and turns of the plot keep the reader in suspense and never sure of the outcome until the last few pages. Highly recommended for readers looking for a new mystery/murder writer with a strong sense of place and history.

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