Jan 1, 1995

The Trouble with Going Home

The Trouble with Going Home
A Simona Griffo Mystery
by Camilla T. Crespi
1995, HarperCollins, ISBN 0-06-109153-7, Harper Paperbacks, ISBN 0-06-109153-7

Where I Get My Ideas

While writing the previous book, Thin Ice, it became clear to me that Simona needed to clear up the debris from her past if she wanted her American life to go anywhere so I took her back home to Rome to face some old ghosts. In this book I wanted to deal with loyalty, tradition, and the power of Italian family ties.

Because Rome is laden with history and art, I begin each chapter with a quote about the city which also connects with the events described in the chapter.

Going Home has been optioned by Dolphin Entertainment for a possible TV movie.


A Rome tourists seldom see.


Simona flies back to Rome to find out what has gone wrong in her parent's marriage. She hasn't been back more that an hour when she witnesses the mugging and stabbing death of a young American art student just outside the building where her mother is temporarily living with Mirella, an old friend of the family's and the dead student's art teacher. When the murder weapon is traced back to Mirella's kitchen, Mirella, her son Luke and even her 92-year-old Nonna are suspects. Simona's mother asks Simona to help clear Mirella's family of any suspicion. Simona agrees, although she suspects her mother is really only trying to distract her from finding out what has happened to her father who seems to have disappeared.

Simona soon finds out that Tamar, the dead student, may have been carrying a lost Leonardo da Vinci drawing in the satchel that was stolen the day she was killed -- a drawing that may have been stolen from the crumbling palazzo of a prince who seems very much interested in Simona's mother or taken from the home of a rich American businessman and collector with whom Mirella is in love. Even Simona's ex-husband, who keeps showing up playing the charmer, was somehow involved with the dead student. As Simona tries to help her friends and stay connected to Stan by long distance calls, she has to sort out her own ambivalent feelings as to where home really is.
Recurring Characters

* Stan Greenhouse
* his son Willy


A mouth-watering caper. Murder may provide the impetus for the action in this book, but it is a particularly Roman lust for life that keeps us turning the pages. -- The Denver Post

...the picture Crespi paints of the extended Italian family is emotionally complex, and her knowledge of love for them is worth the visit. -- The Drood Review

RECOMMENDED...evocative descriptions of the Eternal City make an interesting backdrop to a compelling mystery. -- Deadly Pleasures

Camilla Crespi makes the city come alive. -- Critics' Choice, America Online

Crespi imbues Simona with new depths and self-revelations, ultimately providing a wonderfully satisfying Roman holiday not only for Simona, but for the readers as well. -- Kate's Mystery Books Newsletter

A fitting background for a mystery shrouded in the examination of the many forms of love, Rome is beautiful and deadly. A very clever puzzle will satisfy but the images of the Eternal City in springtime will captivate and transport the armchair traveler who longs for the rich tastes and smells of Italy. -- Mystery Lovers Bookshop News

The Beginning

"Go thou to Rome, at once the Paradise."
--Percy Bysshe Shelley, Adonais

It was the girl who held my attention.

The scooter had whizzed in front of me -- two heads and a blur of dark, long hair -- but the girl on the sidewalk looked straight at me, her expression thoughtful, not the stunned surprise I expected.
Recipe -- Pasta Allegria (Happiness Pasta)

Serves four as a main course

* 4 small and firm zucchini
* 2 large yellow bell peppers
* 1 large Japanese eggplant (long and slim, the color is light purple. It is sweeter than Italian eggplant.)
* 2 lbs ripe plum tomatoes
* 2 garlic cloves, minced
* 10 large leaves of basil
* 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
* 1 lb short tubular pasta (penne or rigatoni)
* Salt and pepper
* Kosher salt for pasta water

To be prepared four to six hours before serving:

Remove grill from broiler and cover with tin foil. Turn on broiler. Slice zucchini in 1/8" horizontal strips. Repeat procedure for eggplant. Cut peppers, remove seeds and white cores and slice into 1" strips. Halve the tomatoes.

Lay out zucchini on foil-covered grill, season with salt and pepper, and grill on top rung of broiler for 4 minutes on each side. When done, remove to a large serving bowl.

Repeat procedure for eggplant and peppers (peppers may take longer depending on thickness). The vegetables should turn golden brown, with a few burnt edges. Broil tomatoes, cut side up, for 10-12 minutes. Mix the cooked vegetables together and cut them into smaller pieces inside the bowl. Add minced garlic and hand-shredded basil leaves. Check for seasoning and correct if necessary. Add olive oil. Let the vegetables macerate in the bowl at room temperature for 4 to 6 hours. (If it is a hot day, you may put in refrigerator, but remove at least an hour before serving.)

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta. Cook until al dente (10 to 12 minutes depending on quality of pasta). Drain, add to vegetable bowl. Mix well and serve.