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Wednesday, April 7, 2010

A Mystery (Novel)... In Stresa


This is where the large Daimler limousine turns onto via Mazzini after via Ottolini... blind turn up ahead.

On a flight to Stresa I began a book that had been recently recommended to me. I had saved it for this trip, as the setting of the book was Stresa itself. The book is Good Blood, by Aaron Elkins. It's a mystery novel, and it turned out to be an excellent read and a fun choice for the trip. The central characters are a wealthy and aristocratic family that live on Isola de Grazia, de Grazia being their family name. Clearly, they are patterned after the Borromeo family, although the characters and the story and their particular island are all fictional. What's not fictional however, is the portrayal of Stresa itself.

For example, the story opens with a kidnapping and shootout. The 16-year-old son of the wealthy family is being chauffeur-driven to school when a carefully planned accident blocks the main road, causing his limousine to divert onto Stresa's narrow alleys. In a tight spot the car is trapped, a shootout occurs, the boy is taken.

So I went on a walk through some of them to find the spot mentioned in the story. Here's the paragraph from the book:

...he turned into the equally narrow, eqully empty via Ottolini, edged cautiously around the planter boxes set out in front of the Hotel da Cesare, jogged around the blind corner at the intersection of via Mazzini (where a surprised grocer setting his wares out on the pavement grumblingly made room for him to pass), eased with care onto via Garibaldi --
So I walked this... and si, it is as he says, in fact, I've been the passenger often in a car driving around that impossible corner. In the book the Daimler limousine becomes trapped there, blocked on either side by another car, and a kidnapping and shootout occurs. Fun book, Good Blood. It's the first I've read by the author. The mystery was satisfying, and it was great fun to find the matching locations to the story. In this case it made me focus entirely on Stresa's small maze of alleyways:

Via Garibaldi. What looks like a solid wall at the end is actually a turn to the left, and then the jog spoken about to the right.And it was right here, at the other end of via Garibaldi, at this intersection with via Mazzini, that the Daimler was blockaded and attacked.


So if looking for a good, light novel for your trip here, and you're a mystery fan, I'll recommend Good Blood, made all the better for taking place right here in Stresa.

...and no, I'm not going to tell you who did it. You'll have to read it for yourself!




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