Nonna Maria and the Case of the Lost Treasure

A Novel

About the Book

Nonna Maria, “one of the most charming amateur sleuths ever created” (Tess Gerritsen), dodges assassins and hunts for hidden treasure in this transporting mystery from #1 New York Times bestselling author Lorenzo Carcaterra.

As Nonna Maria’s longtime pal and sometimes colleague, Captain Murino, in charge of the local carabinieri, never wanted to see harm brought to the doorstep of everyone’s favorite espresso-brewing, counsel-giving amateur sleuth. But when you live a long life, you’re bound to make a few enemies. And when those enemies come calling, you have to rely on friends. Faced with an assassin seeking revenge for a decades-old grudge, Captain Murino has no choice but to turn to Maria, who must use all her neighborly resources, clever faculties, and web of connections to save him from his perilous predicament.

On the other side of the island, a second mystery begins to unfold at the deathbed of another of Maria’s old friends, as he hands his granddaughter a yellowed map and tells her of a treasure to be found in one of Ischia’s secret caverns. However, there are traps and pitfalls. There will be others with sinister motives who will do all they can to make the treasure their own. But this map is a guide—the only gift he has to give. When the granddaughter needs help cracking the code, she turns to her grandfather’s most trusted friend: Nonna Maria.

From battling foes in medieval castles to exploring the notorious caverns where smugglers hide their goods, Nonna Maria and her friends—some old, some new—embark on their most swashbuckling adventure yet.
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Praise for Nonna Maria and the Case of the Lost Treasure

Praise for Lorenzo Carcaterra and the Nonna Maria series

“An utterly delightful tale starring one of the most charming amateur sleuths ever created, Nonna Maria and the Case of the Missing Bride is so delicious it will make you want to pack your bags and move to Italy!”New York Times bestselling author Tess Gerritsen

“The brilliant Lorenzo Carcaterra has created his own irresistible genre: the literary cozy. I fell in love with this wonderfully lyrical and completely entertaining novel, and most of all its instantly iconic heroine. Nonna Maria is Miss Marple and Sherlock Holmes combined into one wise and unforgettable character. Touching, charming, and delightful—do not miss this!”USA Today bestselling author Hank Phillippi Ryan

“Lorenzo Carcaterra has written a suspenseful tale while bringing the history, traditions, and colorful characters of the island of Ischia to life. The indomitable Nonna Maria shines throughout. Bravo!”—Camilla Trinchieri, author of the Doyle/Perillo Tuscan mystery series

“Nostalgia for Ischia’s simpler way of life, nearly lost in the face of the fast-paced modern world, combines successfully with a suspenseful plot and a feisty heroine who’s as kind as she is steely.”Booklist

“A writer who has earned his spot in the top echelon of suspense masters, Lorenzo Carcaterra is simply the best.”New York Times bestselling author Steve Berry

“One of the all-time greats.”—#1 internationally bestselling author Jeffery Deaver

“One of my favorite writers in the world.”New York Times bestselling author Lisa Scottoline
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Nonna Maria and the Case of the Lost Treasure


The man pulled a chair from a small outdoor table and sat down. He stared out at the busy port of the Italian island of Ischia, watching as fishermen unloaded their morning catch and tour boat crews washed and scrubbed upper and lower decks, anticipating yet another busy day in what was proving to be a busy summer season. A young waiter walked over to the table and smiled at the man. “The pastries are still in the oven,” he said. “Should be out in a few minutes. But the coffee is fresh and ready to pour.”

“Coffee’s all I need,” the man said. “Double espresso. Stronger the better.”

“Sounds like you’re in need of a wake-up call,” the young waiter said, still holding the smile.

The man turned his attention away from the port and glared at the young waiter, his eyes the color of stone. “I’m in need of a coffee,” he said. “Nothing more.”

“I didn’t mean to offend you,” the young waiter said, losing the smile. “I was merely trying to make conversation.”

“That’s something else I don’t need or want,” the man said. “Just bring the coffee.”

The young waiter rushed toward the entrance of the café while the man reached a thick hand into the side pocket of his white jacket and pulled out a butane lighter and a small cigar. He sat back, popped open the lighter, and watched as the flame flickered across the front and sides of the cigar. He then put the cigar to his mouth, lit the rich, charcoal-colored tobacco, and let the thin lines of smoke filter up around his face.

He was in his late forties, with an angular and handsome face marred only by a thin scar just below his lower lip. He wore loose-fitting clothes—a designer jacket over a black crewneck shirt, light gray cargo pants, and black sandals—though not loose enough to fully hide the muscular chest and forearms resting beneath them. But they did hide the revolvers holstered on each hip.

His name was Maurizio Carnale, and he had come to Ischia not for the thermal waters nor for the great beaches, the abundant sunshine, or the top-tier restaurants.

Maurizio Carnale had come to Ischia for only one purpose. To kill a man. And when it came to the art of murder, there were few better to be found in all of Europe than the man sitting at an outdoor café on a quiet summer morning waiting impatiently for a double espresso.

Nonna Maria sat in a wicker chair, a warm cup of espresso resting on a side table, two of her granddaughters sitting on soft pillows at her feet. She was dressed in widow’s black as she had been every day since the death of her husband, Gabriel, many years ago; and her thick white hair was folded in a bun held in place by a handful of long, thick pins.

“Nonna, tell us the story of the Greek giant who made Ischia from a large rock,” the older of the two granddaughters, Isabella, said.

“I’ve told you that story many times, little one,” Nonna Maria said. “You should know it better than I do by now.”

“I do know the story, Nonna,” Isabella said. “And I’ve tried to tell it to Concetta, but she doesn’t believe me, and she asks too many questions. And I don’t know the answers to all of them. Not like you.”

Nonna Maria rested a hand on top of Concetta’s head and smiled down at the dark-haired eight-year-old. “It’s not a story to be believed,” she said. “It’s a story to be passed down. From me to you and to Isabella. And then, one day, many years from now, from you to your own children and grandchildren. That’s what makes it a special story.”

Concetta rested her head against one of Nonna Maria’s legs. She was two weeks shy of her ninth birthday and was as curious as a kitten. “Did your mother tell you the story when you were my age?” she asked.

“She did,” Nonna Maria said. “Many times. And I loved hearing her tell it. She was a great storyteller, my mother, and listening to her, sitting as close to her as you are to me, made me feel as if we were the only two people in the world and that she was letting me in on a secret only the two of us would share.”

“You see,” Isabella said to her sister, “I told you it was a special story. But when I say it, you pretend not to listen.”

“You don’t tell stories the way Nonna does,” Concetta said. “You make them sound silly. Nonna makes them sound real.”

“You know what makes a good story sound even better?” Nonna Maria asked, pushing her wicker chair back and heading toward the kitchen.

“What?” Concetta asked.

“A cup of hot cocoa and two slices of fresh bread with Nutella,” Nonna Maria said.

Nonna Maria believed, as did many her age living on the island, that a hot drink was the ideal way to keep a body cool on a warm summer day.

“I like the story already, Nonna,” Concetta said. “And you haven’t even told it to us yet.”

“The Greek god Zeus was angry,” Nonna Maria said. She was pacing around her kitchen table, Isabella and Concetta sitting on wooden chairs, two empty cups and two small plates tinged with crumbs and smears of Nutella resting by their elbows. “A giant had come down from the mountains and demanded three pots of gold he said belonged to him. If Zeus refused, the giant would cause the ocean to rise and kill the people who lived close to the shore.”

“What did the giant look like?” Concetta asked.

Nonna Maria stopped pacing and looked at her granddaughter. “He was bigger than the tallest building you’ve ever seen,” she said. “And strong enough to pull a dozen trees from the ground with one hand. His skin was green and lined with scars. His eyes were the size of plates and the color of mud. He had a loud and fierce voice, and his words were filled with anger. Throughout the land he was feared by everyone who crossed his path. Everyone but Zeus.”

“Why wasn’t Zeus scared of him?” Concetta asked.

“Zeus was the ruler of the land, and he had sworn to protect his people against any enemy,” Nonna Maria said. “He had fought in many wars and defeated all who stood in his way. He was more than a Greek god. He was a warrior.”

“Was he strong enough to beat the giant?” Concetta asked.

“Stop asking questions,” Isabella said, “and let Nonna tell us the story.”

Nonna Maria rested a hand on Concetta’s shoulder and smiled. “It’s good to ask questions, Isabella,” she said. “You’ve heard me tell the story many times before. This is the first time Concetta is hearing it from me. She doesn’t know the tale as well as you do. Be patient with your sister.”

“Did you ask your mother many questions when she first told you the story, Nonna?” Concetta asked.

Isabella shook her head and cupped her face with both hands. “It never ends,” she said.

“I asked my mother many questions, Concetta,” Nonna Maria said. “My mother was a patient woman, and she answered every one. But much like Isabella, she probably wished I had asked fewer. In time, as I heard the story over and over, I learned to listen more and save my questions for when she finished telling the tale. And I have no doubt you will one day do the same.”

“So, did Zeus and the giant get into a fight?” Concetta asked.

“Yes, they did,” Nonna Maria said. “It was a battle that went on for several days. Neither the giant nor the god was willing to surrender. They fought on land and then moved to the sea, the waves in their wake so large they crashed against the highest mountains. Houses trembled, people of the towns ran for any shelter they could find, animals scattered into the hills.”

“Did they fight with their hands, or did they have weapons?” Concetta asked.

“Both,” Nonna Maria said. “The giant tossed large rocks and boulders at Zeus and the god would send bolts of lightning from his fingers into the chest and back of the giant. The force would buckle his legs, but with the courage of a lion and the strength of a bull, he would shake off the pain and charge Zeus, looking to drag the god down into the depths of the ocean.”

“But a god can’t lose a fight, Nonna,” Isabella said. “No matter how big or strong his opponent.”

“Anyone can lose a fight, Isabella,” Nonna Maria said. “Even a god can be brought down.”

“So, Zeus lost to the giant?” Concetta asked.

Nonna Maria looked at both her granddaughters and shook her head. “No,” she said. “Not this time. Zeus came roaring up out of the deep water and with all the strength he had, he brought the giant to his knees. He rained blows on the giant, slammed boulders on top of his back, and pulled trees from the earth and smashed them over his head. The attack lasted for three days, and then the giant finally fell face down to the ground, defeated.”

“Was he still alive?” Concetta asked.

Nonna Maria nodded. “The fight had been taken out of him,” she said, “but he lived. And now it was left to the god to punish him.”

“Did he send the giant to prison?” Concetta asked.

About the Author

Lorenzo Carcaterra
Lorenzo Carcaterra is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Sleepers, A Safe Place, Apaches, Gangster, Street Boys, Paradise City, Chasers, Midnight Angels, and The Wolf. He is a former writer/producer for Law & Order and has written for National Geographic Traveler, The New York Times Magazine, Details, and Maxim. He lives in New York City with Gus, his Olde English Bulldogge, and is at work on his next novel. More by Lorenzo Carcaterra
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