Please join me in welcoming Jen Collins Moore to the blog today to chat about her new cozy mystery Murder in the Piazza!
MURDER IN THE PIAZZA
SERIES: A Maggie White Mystery #1
GENRE: Cozy Mystery
PUBLISHER: Level Best Books
RELEASE DATE: September 22, 2020
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.
Living Like a Tourist
by Jen Collins Moore, author of Murder in the Piazza
One thing I love about traveling is that I get to see the world with fresh eyes. I keep a pretty relaxed schedule when I’m on vacation—I’ll make a plan that includes a few specific destinations, but really their purpose is to give me a direction to walk in or a reason to hop on the subway.
It’s the things I notice on the way to or from a five-star sight that are the most memorable parts of my trip. Remember that old Joseph Campbell quote about the point of the quest being the quest itself? (Or was my high school the only one that considered Campbell’s theory on the monomyth required reading?) It’s as true for sightseeing as it is for tackling a dragon.
One example: garbage collection. Not very romantic, right? But on my trips to Italy, I’ve been struck again and again at how civilized trash collection can be. In Taormina, a tiny cliff-side town in Sicily, the garbage collectors push a bin down a pedestrian street and the shopkeepers come out to greet them like old friends as they hand over their trash bags. In Venice a boat makes its way around the city with a mechanized claw that picks up dumpsters, empties trash and returns them to the street, all without a traditional truck. And in Florence householders take their trash to central bins which look to be the size of a newspaper box above ground, but are actually full-size dumpsters hidden below ground. When it’s time for them to be emptied, the entire things gets lifted out from the ground. Attractive and functional. Brilliant!
I noticed these things because I was on vacation, far away from the pressures of my overflowing email box and need to multitask while completing simple errands.
So what does that mean in this time of Covid where most of us are stuck in the same routines, seeing our familiar places over and over again? For me, it’s a reminder to slow down and be a tourist in my own city.
I don’t mean going to the art museum or on an official walking tour, though those are fine too. I mean taking walks without headphones, noticing the people around me and eavesdropping on a conversation or two. I mean noticing the architecture of the buildings in my neighborhood and appreciating the stone details someone paid a little extra to install when they built an apartment building sixty years ago, or the way my neighbors use their front porches. If I were a tourist I’d be on the lookout for these things that I, as a local, take for granted. But I’m making an effort to appreciate them with fresh eyes.
I’m also indulging in some good old-fashioned armchair travel. Reading books set in my favorite places—or places I’d love to visit—is a wonderful escape from the realities of today. Just because we can’t stray far from home doesn’t mean we can’t explore a place, a culture, or a period of history that fascinates us. My advice: pick up a pastry and check out a book and go on your own armchair adventure!
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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What about you? What makes you want to read Murder in the Piazza by Jen Collins Moore?