Rita grew up in Brooklyn, the only child of a narcissistic Italian mother and the GI she married at the end of World War II. After her mother’s death, she quits her teaching job and descends upon her poor but aristocratic relatives, the Count and Countess Casati, in Assisi. It takes a while before they realize, to their chagrin, that Rita has come to stay. When the family assembles to watch the penitentes procession in the town square during Easter Week, a Casati tradition, Rita does not join them as planned. Her corpse is later found in the family mausoleum.
Alessandro Cenni, a commissario in the State Police of Umbria, and a handsome bachelor whose twin brother is about to become a bishop, must penetrate the secrets of the Casati family and their circle if he is to discover who killed Rita and why. But he is blocked by their powerful right-wing connections, and by a superior who prefers to arrest a scapegoat rather than risk political suicide. Aided by a loyal staff in his quest for that rarity—justice—he still must acknowledge that no one can defeat the last enemy, death itself.
Grace Brophy grew up in Queens, New York. She now divides her time between New York and Terni, a village in Umbria, where she lives with her husband, a Uruguayan artist. This is the first in the Commissario Cenni series of investigations set in Italy.
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Born in New Jersey to Irish parents, Grace Brophy lived and worked as a teacher and systems engineer in New York City until 2001, when she and her late husband, figurative painter Miguel Peraza, traveled to Italy with their two cats. While still in Italy, she began The Last Enemy, her first work of fiction. Her second Commissario Cenni novel, A Deadly Paradise, is also published by Soho Press.From Booklist:
Unlike Tuscany, Rome, and Sicily, Umbria has tended to be underserved by the recent boom in Italian crime novels. That changes with this new series from first-novelist Brophy, an American who has lived in Italy for many years. Set in Assisi and starring Alessandro Cenni, a maverick commissario with the Italian state police, the novel concerns the murder of an American during Holy Week. The victim, niece of a powerful Assisi family, had made no shortage of enemies since arriving from Brooklyn, but Cenni's investigation is roadblocked from the get-go by the formidable right-wing connections of the Casati clan. But the jeans-clad, bedroom-eyed, unmarried Cenni never met a bureaucracy he wasn't willing to stampede, and the fireworks begin. Brophy has a good feel for characters—Cenni's colleagues, family members, and adversaries are all full-fledged personalities—and she turns Assisi's landscape, religion-soaked history, and near-impregnable insularity into powerful tools for generating a foreboding tone. Cenni is sure to please fans of David Hewson's Nic Costa, and all readers of Italian mysteries will want to add Umbria to their literary itineraries. Ott, Bill
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