Marcello Simoni presents his new novel. An article by Erika Patruno

At a talk on Saturday afternoon at the Casa Manzoni, Marcello Simoni, historian and author, transported the Noir in Festival audience into the midst of the intriguing plot of his new novel, La taverna degli assassini.

“A cozy crime,” the author calls his costume drama mystery tale that plays out in the erstwhile Grand Duchy of Tuscana in 1793 and instantly plunges readers into the atmosphere of classic genre novels. The settings are gorgeous and lavish living is the name of the game.

“Why did you choose a historical setting?” asked John Vignola, moderator of the event. “A mystery story,” Simoni replied, “is the only genre that establishes a close relationship between the author and the reader; it’s a game between two players. The historical setting only enhances this aspect, since it takes the reader’s identification with the story to a higher level.”

The author’s bond with the reader is the same as the one Simoni creates with his own characters. The investigator and the suspects face off in a metaphorical chess game in which the boundaries are constantly shifting and the winner is not the one with the best technique but the one with nerves of steel.

Thanks to Marcello Simoni’s mastery of the storytelling craft, he endows his protagonist with just the right dose of sangfroid and ennui, characteristics that allow Vitale Federici to take his rightful place among the great detectives of the mystery genre.