Murder in the Piazza
Murder in the Piazza: A Maggie White Mystery
by Jen Collins Moore
About Murder in the Piazza
Murder in the Piazza: A Maggie White Mystery
1st in Series
Publisher: Level Best Books (September 22, 2020)
Paperback: 278 pages
Digital ASIN: B08FBL9GV8
Maggie White, a downsized American executive stuck in Rome on her husband’s expat assignment, is finding the dolce vita isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. She’s taken a job offering painting instruction to well-heeled travelers and her boss-a rather unpleasant English lord-has turned up dead in his penthouse. Maggie’s left with a palazzo full of suspicious guests, a valuable painting her boss might have stolen, and a policeman who’s decided she’s the prime suspect. Now Maggie must keep the tour up and running while she tracks the killer and works to clear her name.
Art History Cheat Sheet
Art’s never been my thing. I’m the woman who goes to an art museum and spends her time thinking about which picture she’d hang in her living room. I still can’t remember the difference between Monet and Manet, and the last time I picked up a paintbrush myself was to stencil a border around my kitchen back home in Connecticut with a too-short ladder. My arms still ache just thinking about that debacle.
So it’s a little ironic that I’ve taken a job at Masterpiece Tours, which offers painting vacations in Rome to well-heeled travellers. But I’ve lived in Rome for five months now, and you can’t spend time in this mecca without learning a few things. Here’s my personal art history cheat sheet:
You’ve probably heard people describe some piece of art as classical. It’s a fancy way of saying the art was made when the Greek and Roman empires were at their peak. That’s from about 500 B.C.E. to 500 C.E.
And while everyone talks a lot about the Greeks, their empire was around for just a pretty small part of that time, just 500 B.C.E. to 338 B.C.E. But the Romans were awfully enamored by Greek art and borrowed heavily from it, so sometimes it’s hard for people like me to tell what’s Greek and what’s Roman. If I were faced with a naked statue of someone looking thoughtful, I’d place my bet on it being Roman. Just playing the odds: they came later and lasted longer. I’m sure the experts have a better system.
Speaking of naked people looking thoughtful, that’s a common theme in Classical art. Subjects tended to be nude and were shown looking heroic and important.
This is the dreary period that came after the fall of the Roman Empire. It’s the art that I whizz past in museums. It’s from about 500 to 1400 C.E., and art from this period was almost entirely about religion.
Most of the people in the paintings, manuscripts, and tapestries of the time appear stiff and gloomy. Probably not too big of a surprise for a period in history also known as the Dark Ages. Many people were serfs, starvation was common, and disease was rampant. Beauty and heroism weren’t big themes in art back then.
What a relief this period is after slogging through Medieval art! This is the time between 1400 and 1650 C.E. when artists took a fresh interest in the ideas of the Classical period and applied these ideas to painting, sculpture and drawing.
Artists discovered techniques to make art lifelike and three-dimensional, and people were once again shown to be thoughtful and intelligent.
I have a lot more to learn, but Masterpiece Tours’ founder, Lord Philip Walpole, is a expert, and I’m sure he’ll be a great teacher. I just wish I liked him a little more. Or rather, at all.
In my six days here the man has reduced me to tears five times. And I’m not a woman who cries easily. It wasn’t until I met Lord Philip that I lost control.
I started fantasizing about his death on my third day on the job. Just a painless, but fatal, heart attack that would strike him down in the middle of the night. When that failed to materialize, I imagined him taking the wrong step in front of a speeding bus. Today I moved on to poison.
But I won’t kill my employer, pleasant as it is to imagine. I managed to survive fifty-five years without killing anyone—including that awful Lana Harrison, who thought she knew more about managing an advertising campaign than I did—and I will survive without killing Lord Philip, too.
About Jen Collins Moore
Jen Collins Moore is the author of the Maggie White Mysteries. Her short fiction has appeared in Mystery Weekly, and she is the editor of the Mystery Writers of America Midwest newsletter. She is a member of Sisters in Crime and Mystery Writers of America, as well an established marketer and entrepreneur. A transplanted New Englander, she lives in Chicago with her husband and two boys.
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