I’m so excited to have a fabulous detective in the house as my guest today. Please help me welcome Nico Doyle! Let’s find out about author Camilla Crespi’s background and then we’ll learn more about her sleuth.
Born Italian, I became American in 1997. After getting an MFA in Creative Writing at Columbia University I started writing mysteries under the pseudonym Camilla Crespi while I did research for Seeking Alice, a fictionalized story of my mother during World War II. After eight Crespi mysteries, Alice was published under my own name. A visit to Tuscany inspired me to write about a small town, its people, and the fabulous wines and food. I added a New York ex-homicide detective, Nico Doyle, who starts his widowed life in the town where he buried is his Italian American wife. Murder in Chianti was followed by The Bitter Taste of Murder. Murder on the Vine will be followed by The Road to Murder next year. I’m having fun. I’m back home. The characters have become my friends.
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Betty: How would you describe your parents?
Nico: My Irish father was an abusive drunk and luckily walked out on us when I was in my teens. My Italian mother was a sweet woman who loved and feared her husband and was too frightened and exhausted to show me any love, even after he left.
Betty: Who taught you to tie your shoes?
Nico: My father showed me how he tied his shoes just once. That was enough. I was a quick learner to avoid his anger.
Betty: Do you know how to swim?
Nico: I do. I wasn’t so quick with that.
Betty: How did you learn, if so?
Nico: My father threw me in the deep end of a public swimming pool and told me to swim. The lifeguard pulled me up and out of the goodness of his wonderful heart offered to teach me for free.
Betty: What do you think is your greatest failure? Why?
Nico: Discarding the evidence in a murder case back in New York.
I broke the oath I had taken when I became a cop. I failed my colleagues. It’s a failure that saddens me, but I still think I did the right thing.
Betty: What is the most wonderful thing that has happened to you?
Meeting my wife Rita and when I lost her, coming to live in Gravigna, where she was born and is now buried.
Betty: If you could change the past, what would you change?
Nico: Why think of changing the past when it’s not possible? I try not to dwell in what was. You insist I answer? Okay. I would change my father. I would change my mother’s tears into laughter. I would change Rita’s cancer into a cold. I would change me into a better man.
Betty: What’s your greatest fear?
Nico: I try not to let fear into my thoughts. I had enough of it with my father and Rita’s cancer. Fear leaves a hole that can turn into gangrene. Ask me what is my greatest hope. That I can answer.
I’ll tell you without being asked. I hope the friends I have made in this Tuscan town stay well and enjoy their lives. Rita’s restaurant chef cousin Tilde, who welcomed me with arms as wide as the Mediterranean, Perillo, the Neapolitan maresciallo who erroneously thinks he can’t solve a murder without my New York detective savvy. Also his young right-hand man, the blush prone Daniele. Nelli patiently waits for me to loosen up about loving again. Old Gogol, the Dante-quoting man I share breakfast with each weekday morning. My landlord Aldo and is wife Cinzia, from whom I’ve rented a small farmhouse. I hope OneWag, the mutt who led me to a murder scene, lives a long, long life.
Betty: Who else knows about it?
Nico: I hope they all do.
Betty: What’s your favorite game to play?
Nico: I used to play poker back at the precinct. I try to run every morning. That’s gaming with your body.
Betty: Do you have a favorite sibling?
Nico: No siblings.
Betty: If you could live anywhere, where would you live?
Nico: Right here in Gravigna.
Betty: How do you like to relax?
Nico: Sitting on my balcony, looking out at the olive grove and the vineyard behind it, with a glass of wine in my hand and OneWag nearby.
Betty: What genre of books do you most enjoy reading?
Nico: I’m not a book reader, I’m afraid. I read the local paper and sometimes the international edition of The New York Times. Rita devoured mysteries.
Betty: How do you like to start your day?
Nico: Putting the moka on the stove and making the bed. I was asked to make my bed when I was very young. I liked doing it. It gave a semblance of order to the day. Somehow it still does.
Betty: What kinds of friends do you have?
Nico: I think I’ve already answered that. They are many things depending on their day and mine: kind, generous, loving, irritating, demanding. Never boring, never cruel.
Betty: Who would you like to meet? Why?
Nico: After listening to the news I sometimes fantasize I could meet the politicians in charge. So I could throw them in jail for effing this beautiful country.
Cesare, an old hotel bartender goes missing. Lara, his young friend, and his boss, asks the Maresciallo of the Carabinieri for help. When OneWag, Nico’s dog, finds the bartender’s body in the trunk of the local bar owner’s car, Maresciallo Perillo once again asks his American friend to help him uncover who stabbed to death a seemingly innocuous eighty-year-old and why.
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Thanks for stopping in, Nico. It was a pleasure getting to know you a bit better.
Award-winning Author of Historical Fiction with Heart, and Haunting, Bewitching Love Stories
Visit www.bettybolte.com for a complete list of my books and appearances.
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