cover image The Sleeping Nymph

The Sleeping Nymph

Ilaria Tuti, trans. from the Italian by Ekin Oklap. Soho Crime, $27.95 (456p) ISBN 978-1-64129-121-7

Tuti’s outstanding sequel to 2019’s Flowers over the Inferno plunges Supt. Teresa Battaglia into a cold case reaching back more than seven decades. When experts authenticate a recently resurfaced, long-lost painting dated 1945, The Sleeping Nymph, they find traces of cardiac tissue, suggesting that the then 23-year-old artist, Alessio Andrian, executed it by “dipping his fingers in someone’s heart.” DNA analysis indicates it belongs to a resident of the Resia Valley, an isolated region of Northern Italy. Teresa and her team, including her malcontent assistant, Insp. Massimo Marini, travel to the valley to investigate. They eventually identify the heart’s owner, but the stakes rise with the discovery of a fresh human heart nailed to a signpost. Flashbacks to WWII reveal the dramatic story of Andrian, who apparently went mad soon after painting The Sleeping Nymph and never painted again. An intense plot, alluring secondary characters, and the contentious but endearing relationship between Teresa and Massimo make for engrossing reading. Readers will eagerly await Tuti’s next. (Sept.)