Anne, if you look across at the Botticelli topic on this Board, you'll see that I played a detective called Aurelio Zen quite recently. If you haven't come across him, I'd advise dipping a toe in the water, preferably by starting with the first book in the series (Ratking) and reading the others in chronological order - Zen has a complicated personal life which changes as the books go on, and one of the books (And Then You Die) is very definitely a sequel to another (Blood Rain.

All the stories take place in Italy and contain lots of fascinating detail about the working methods of the Italian police, and their relations with the Carabinieri and with persons of influence in politics, business, etc., some of which may be fictional...

The author, Michael Dibdin, is British but currently lives in Seattle. I would definitely describe the series as literate and intelligent.

I have no idea if they are published in the US of A, but, if they aren't, they should be!