The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Travel & Indulgence - SU­SAN KURO­SAWA SU­SAN KURO­SAWA

Death in Au­gust Marco Vichi (Hod­der & Stoughton, $32.99) THE new­est de­tec­tive to solve das­tardly crimes in dec­o­ra­tive places is In­spec­tor Bordelli. It’s the sum­mer of 1963 and those with any sense, in­clud­ing the po­lice com­mis­sioner, have left the sti­fling heat of Florence for the sea­side. But death is not a sea­sonal af­fair and there’s a wealthy sig­nora dead in her villa — is it re­ally an asthma at­tack or some­thing more sin­is­ter? Soon there’s a line-up of fam­ily sus­pects, all act­ing shifty. Bordelli is an old-school cop who re­lies on his gut in­stincts, his net­work of shady snouts and his abil­ity to work all hours on a diet of fags, grappa and the oc­ca­sional feast of zuppa lom­barda cooked for him by an ex-crim.

Fans of An­drea Camil­leri’s In­spec­tor Mon­tal­bano mys­ter­ies (Si­cily) and Donna Leon’s Po­lice Com­mis­sioner Guido Brunetti se­ries (Venice) should en­joy meet­ing the rene­gade Bordelli, who of­ten lets off crooks for mi­nor of­fences and has a healthy dis­re­gard for his higher-ups.

With a young side­kick and a trusted pathol­o­gist, the dogged Bordelli solves the crime just as the Au­gust heat and the pesky mos­qui­toes abate. He’s on the case, too, in Death in Florence and oth­ers in this con­tin­u­ing se­ries. Slow Tracks: A Can­ter through Vic­to­ria and Coun­try Races Jude Fitcher (Af­firm Press, $24.95) COUN­TRY race meets across Aus­tralia, but par­tic­u­larly, it seems, in Vic­to­ria, are rou­tinely fun af­fairs, with a chance for the com­mu­nity to dress up, have a flut­ter, bring a plate for a neigh­bourly pic­nic. But Jude Fitcher says that since 1960, 34 cour­ses have closed in the state; it’s a sub­ject close to the heart of this Vic­to­rian who grew up in Quam­bat­ook, in Mallee coun­try, and has fond mem­o­ries of the Quam­bat­ook Cup, later re­lo­cated to Swan Hill. She re­calls ‘‘col­lect­ing bet­ting tick­ets off the ground, eat­ing hot dogs, los­ing the oldies for the day, slink­ing into the Think Big Club for a bel­ly­ful of home­made cakes and sand­wiches’’.

There are 52 re­gional meets in Vic­to­ria from Oc­to­ber to April, and this handy guide plots a course around the host com­mu­ni­ties, many of which have had to broaden a day at the races into a multi-lay­ered event, such as the Mur­toa Big Week­end in the Wim­mera, north­west of Mel­bourne. There are ac­com­mo­da­tion and tour­ing tips, in­clud­ing in­sider sug­ges­tions, plus info on best pubs and even how to catch (and cook) a yabby in Lake Lons­dale, near Stawell. More: af­firm­press.com.au.

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