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Magdalen Nabb, 60, writer of mysteries

MAGDALEN NABB MAGDALEN NABB (2005 file/ap)

GENEVA -- Magdalen Nabb, a British author who wrote crime novels about a quirky Italian investigator, has died, her publishing house said Tuesday. She was 60.

Ms. Nabb died of a stroke Saturday in Florence, where she had lived and worked since 1975, said Diogenes Verlag AG, her Swiss publisher.

Her most popular novels featured Marshal Salvatore Guarnaccia, a Sicilian-born police detective described by Publishers Weekly as "an unusual protagonist for a crime novel: He's neither a Bond-like sophisticate nor a recovering loser."

She published 13 books in the series, the most recent being "The Innocent" in 2005. Her publisher said she had recently submitted a 14th book, titled "Vita Nuova," which is to be released next year.

Ms. Nabb said she started writing when Belgian author Georges Simenon stopped writing his acclaimed novels about French detective Jules Maigret in 1972. A lifelong fan of Simenon's, Ms. Nabb struck up a correspondence with the Belgian, communication that continued until his death in 1989.

Her publisher said that the first copy of each of her books went to him and that "she couldn't write as fast as Simenon read" because he asked her after each new novel where the next one was.

Born in the village of Church in northwest England, Ms. Nabb studied art and pottery and later taught at an English art school. She came up with the idea for Guarnaccia while working in a pottery studio in the Italian town of Montelupo Fiorentino.

Ms. Nabb also published 13 books for children and young adults, including "The Enchanted Horse" and "Twilight Ghost."

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