From Publishers Weekly
Commissario Alessandro Cenni delves into the secret lives of the members of the aristocratic Casati family in Assisi, Italy, after their American niece is murdered during Holy Week in Brophy's rock-solid debut. When Brooklyn transplant Rita Minelli turns up dead in the family cemetery vault, Cenni interrogates her relatives, who were not pleased when she came to live with them and don't seem especially sorry to see her go. Cenni is positive that one of the Casatis is the murderer; his only question, considering that each appears to have had either motive or the means, is who. The deeper he probes, the more this family makes the Borgias look well adjusted. This well-paced murder mystery carries the reader along even after the identity of the culprit becomes clear. Believable narrative twists combined with excellent characterization, rich dialogue and a finely depicted setting will please lovers of old-style deductive detective fiction. (May)
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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 charactersCenni's colleagues, family members, and adversaries are all full-fledged personalitiesand 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