The Sleeping Nymph

Soho Crime. (Teresa Battaglia, Bk. 2). Sept. 2020. 456p. ISBN 9781641291217. $27.95. M
Tuti’s second mystery featuring veteran Italian police superintendent and criminal profiler Teresa Battaglia (following Flowers over the Inferno) delves into the history of a mysterious painting created by a reclusive genius during the last days of World War II. The work, The Sleeping Nymph, features a stunning young woman—painted in blood, with traces of cardiac tissue on the paper. Cracking open this cold case will require both cutting-edge technology and old-fashioned investigative skills. With the help of her partner, investigator Massimo Marini, and a young woman named Blanca and her corpse-sniffing dog, the detectives scour the remote Val Resia in search of the painting’s secrets. They discover an insular community where nobody is who they seem, and someone is willing to kill in order to keep their secrets safe. Meanwhile, Teresa is struggling with memory loss and the aches, pains, and indignities of old age, as well as the reappearance of a rival from her past.
VERDICT This engrossing mystery blends psychological tension with exceptional detective work and features flawed yet appealing characters whose dogged pursuit of the murderer keeps them from focusing too closely on their personal struggles. All this, combined with Oklap’s fluid translation, make this a solid mystery pick for fans of Jussi Adler-Olsen and Elizabeth George.
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