Daughter of Ashes by Ilaria Tuti: Fierce heroine’s finale

Daughter of Ashes is the third and final title in Ilaria Tuti’s gripping crime series starring the indomitable Superintendent Teresa Battaglia. Read our full review.

Daughter of Ashes Synopsis

Daughter of Ashes book cover on mosaic tile background with book review text

Translated from original Italian by Ekin Oklap

Set in the idyllic mountains of Northern Italy, a poignant and irresistible story about the relentless pull of the past on the present.

Superintendent Teresa Battaglia, a trail-blazing criminal detective on the Italian police force, is on sick leave, recovering from her recent brush with death in pursuit of a killer. But none of her colleagues, not even her partner, know that her Alzheimer’s is getting worse, and that Teresa is unsure she will ever return to work.

Teresa’s plans for retirement are shelved, however, when she is urgently summoned to meet with menacing serial killer Giacomo Mainardi. Refusing to speak with anyone but Teresa, whose investigative work twenty-seven years prior landed him in maximum security prison, Mainardi has disconcerting news: somebody is after him, and only Teresa holds the key to keeping everyone, including herself, safe. To solve the case, Teresa must come face to face with a history she thought she’d buried, back to when Giacomo first began to kill, and Teresa—newly pregnant and married to an abusive man—did everything she could to catch him.

Genre: Crime-Detective, Mystery, Historical, Thriller, Literature, Translation

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Book Review

Ilaria Tuti’s The Sleeping Nymph (aka Painted in Blood) was a criminally good character-driven crime thriller featuring an uncommonly authentic ensemble cast led by the fabulous Superintendent Teresa Battaglia.

Now ‘fabulous’ is the last word Teresa would use to describe herself — a gruff, cursing senior diabetic woman who is carrying a few too many pounds along with the baggage that comes with an abusive marriage and a career profiling serial killers. But her hard-nut exterior belies her maternal drive to protect those she cares about at all costs.

In Book 3, Daughter of Ashes, as always, there are few evils Teresa is not prepared to look straight in the eye, and this makes for utterly gripping reading. However, Alzheimer’s is proving a tougher foe, and that is where Tuti’s wonderful ensemble cast shine so bright and strong in this outing.

Once again Tuti’s lush narrative and deft plotting, skilfully translated by Ekin Oklap, defies categorisation. In Daughter of Ashes readers are treated to evocative literary depiction, multiple narrative perspectives – including one ancient, Teresa’s experience 27 years prior and present day, and that of a serial killer – and moments of both heart-in-your-mouth tension and suspense, and deeply moving personal interaction.

If you enjoy literary prose and atypical lead characters and have a stomach for confronting crime, then I highly recommend this series.

While Teresa has now retired (what a swan song!), I sincerely hope Tuti pens a spin-off series featuring one or more of the second-tier characters that shine so bright in Daughter of Ashes.

My Rating

Story 4.5 / 5 ; The Writing 4.5 / 5

Where to get your copy of Daughter of Ashes

Amazon Bookshop US

More Daughter of Ashes reviews

“In a compelling development, Teresa’s emotional walls erode as she recognizes the loyalty of her team, and series fans will find reassurance that, despite her insistence on retiring, a fortuitous twist leaves doors open for future installments.” —Booklist, Starred Review

“Splendidly constructed . . . A standout entry in a superior series.” —Publishers Weekly, Starred Review

Daughter of Ashes is utterly spellbinding, and I can’t stop thinking about this complex, unforgettable heroine. I am so glad to have discovered the gorgeously written novels of Ilaria Tuti!” —Tess Gerritsen, New York Times bestselling author

About the Book Author, Ilaria Tuti

Ilaria Tuti lives in Gemona del Friuli, in the province of Udine. She has a degree in economics, has always had a passion for painting, and freelances for a small independent publisher in her spare time. She won the 2014 Gran Giallo Città di Cattolica literary prize for her short story “The Pagan Child.” Flowers over the Inferno (Book 1, Teresa Battaglia Series, aka The Man in the Woods) was her debut novel, and The Sleeping Nymph (aka Painted in Blood) was her highly anticipated follow-up.

About the Book Translator, Ekin Oklap

Ekin Oklap was born in Turkey, and grew up in Italy. She translates from Turkish and Italian. She currently lives in London, where she works as a literary agent. As a translator, she was shortlisted for the 2016 Man Booker International Prize.

* My receiving a pre-publication digital copy of Daughter of Ashes from the publisher for review purposes did not impact the expression of my honest opinions.