Thursday, June 13, 2019

A chat with Rita Calabrese, the italophile detective!

Buongiorno, amici miei! This is Grandma Bertha, and this Thursday I'm interviewing a detective who loves a good pasta - and who doesn't?  Not only does Rita Calabrese has the coolest name in the world, she's also a keen detective and gave us a witty interview.

Hello, Rita! People love it when I start with this question: what was your first investigation? What was the last, and do you plan to continue doing this?

My first case was the mysterious poisoning—in the hospital, no less, where you are supposed to be safe!—of football coach Jay Stiglitz. About a year later, we were celebrating the three hundredth anniversary of the founding of Acorn Hollow, when a skeleton was discovered during the unveiling on the town’s time capsule. Talk about a cold case!

I never heard that one before! So, was it your choice to become a detective? Or didn’t you have a choice?

I fell into it when Acorn Hollow’s beloved football coach was poisoned. At first, I just wanted to know what really happened, but when the police started looking at my son Vinnie, I really sprang into action! Hell hath no fury like a mama bear prodded into action!

You should see what a grandmother can do! And what’s your daytime occupation? How does it relate to your investigations?

I’m a serious, hard-bitten journalist (don’t you just love the sound of that? I do!) tackling human interest stories about Acorn Hollow’s most fascinating citizens. And some of my subjects are persons of interest in murder investigations—or know something useful!

I found my first case through a newspaper, when I was young. It's a great way to keep in touch with crime without actually getting into danger. Do you watch crime TV show and movies? What are your favorites?

I watch the Italian mystery series starring Inspector Montalbano. Luca Zingaretti is so handsome, and I love all the Sicilian scenery!

Italian horror films are the best too! I love the giallo genre. Apart from Montalbano, who do you see yourself closest to: Sherlock Holmes, Hercule Poirot, Miss Marple or Sam Spade?

Definitely not Sherlock! I’m don’t smoke, DEFINITELY don’t do drugs, and all my friends and associates are smarter than Watson. I suppose I’m a little like a female, Italian version of Poirot, but much less vain—while he prides himself on his glorious mustache, I’m not above having a few silver roots in my jet-black hair. Some might say I resemble Miss Marple, but I’m younger (or, at least, young at heart!). Plus, I don’t just sit there with knitting needles! I pull out my notepad and pen and start firing off the questions. And if I get stuck, I fire up the oven and churn out the biscotti!

Knitting helps me think when I'm investigating. Do you have anyone helping you in your investigations? Tell us more about them.

Of course! As someone who’s dropped off more trays of homemade lasagna for my neighbors than I can count, I have lots of favors I can call in. People are always willing to tell me some pettegolezze—that’s gossip, in case you’re not Italian.

And sometimes help comes from the most unexpected sources. In this last case, I got invaluable assistance from my husband’s shady cousin, Calvino, who operates a dodgy vitamin emporium in Atlantic City. He’s a font of knowledge about all kinds of shady things, and it seems like he’s related to every Italian in the Northeast!

Grazie for the interview, Rita! And thank you, my dear readers for your support. Don't forget to check the books in the side bar. Matt's novel Sherlock Holmes and the Glad Game features the meeting of the famous detective with Pollyanna, from the classic children's books. It's making quite a bit of success, and if things continue this way, we might have an audiobook version soon. See you next week!


Maureen Klovers has held numerous positions in government, including a stint as a U.S. intelligence officer, and was a political commentator on DC 101's talk radio show "Neighborhood Stuff." Ms. Klovers has traveled extensively in the United States, Europe, China, India, and Latin America. She's hiked the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, been escorted through a Bolivian prison by a German narco-trafficker, and fished for piranhas in Venezuela. She received a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations (with a focus on Latin American politics) from the College of William and Mary in 1999 and a Master's of Public Policy and Master's of Business Administration from Georgetown University in 2006. She lives with her husband, Kevin, in Arlington, Virginia.

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