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Deadly Paradise Hardcover – May 1, 2008

4.1 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In Brophy's appealing if low-key second mystery to feature Insp. Alessandro Cenni (after 2007's The Last Enemy), the murder of Jarvinia Baudler in the Italian village of Paradiso creates a headache for German diplomat Dieter Reimann, who had been having an affair with the woman. Reimann's need to recover important papers muddies the waters for the inspector, who discovers that the victim was a bisexual drunk who used Reimann to falsify passports, lived beyond her means and was the recipient of threatening letters. As Cenni sifts through all this intriguing information about the deceased, he comes across a link to unsolved murders from 1978 and possible blackmail involving Reimann's wife. A brief shift of scene to Venice to investigate leads from Baudler's youth doesn't add much to the plot, which unfortunately builds to a resolution that will strike many readers as a letdown after the elaborate setup. (May)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Commissario Alessandro Cenni, on the outs with his superiors, has a chance to escape the hinterlands and return to Perugia, in the heart of his beloved Umbria, but only if he can solve the murder of retired German diplomat Jarvinia Baudler. The game plan is to arrest the young African woman who was Baudler’s lover, but Cenni quickly sees that the case is more complicated than that: Baudler was a multitasking blackmailer, putting the sting on a plethora of former lovers, neighbors with secrets, and even her employers at the German embassy. Cenni and his no-nonsense colleague, Elena Ottaviani, sort through the suspects and deal with sundry personal issues involving her marriage and his obsession with his college lover, who was kidnapped more than 20 years ago. Brophy not only has found in Umbria a fresh setting for Italian crime fiction but she has also created a character in Cenni, who combines the beguiling personal flaws, slumbering sex appeal, and mysterious detachment of David Hewson’s Leo Falcone and Nic Costa. Readers bitten by the Italian crime bug are sure to succumb to Cenni’s charms. --Bill Ott

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Soho Crime; F First Edition Remainder edition (May 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1569474915
  • ISBN-13: 978-1569474914
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 1.1 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,204,270 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Blue in Washington TOP 1000 REVIEWER on July 10, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Grace Brophy's "A Deadly Paradise" is an intricate and exceptionally well spun crime yarn set in Umbria and Venice with a side trip to Urbino. The locations are important to the story as the author wisely weaves in local color to punch up the plot and clarify the character sketches.

Brophy's police comissario protagonist, Alessandro Cenni, is an interesting personality, very much in keeping with the cynical but idealistic cops that star in Donna Leon, Michael Dibdin and Andrea Camillieri's Italian crime novels. Cenni has an alter ego--a twin brother, who is a Catholic Bishop seemingly destined for big things in the Vatican.

But what is most creative about "A Deadly Paradise" is the unfolding story of the principal murder victim of the piece, Jarvinia Baudler, a German woman with such a bizarre history of evil doing that the wonder is that she lived to the age of 77 before she was beaten to death by someone who had finally had enough.

A rich cast of other offbeat characters--a dotty and nasty Venetian Contessa, a larger than life village gossip, a cat-loving diehard Italian Communist, to name but a few--also populate this story to its benefit. Author Brophy attempts to dazzle the reader with this array of wild players and uncountable numbers of red herrings as well to hold our interest with an unusually credible plot. She succeeds across the board, in my opinion.

My only qualm with this well-done book is the slightly irrelevant and therefore less credible pursuit of a lost love by protagonist Cenni. It all may well be explained in the next book in the series, but in "A Deadly Paradise," it seemed a bit tacked on, without a purpose to the book's main story line.
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Format: Hardcover
A Deadly Paradise is Brophy's fascinating sequel to her bravura debut The Last Enemy, and here we follow Alessandro Cenni through the complex alleyways and back canals of Venice and of the Umbrian political scene to solve a diplomatic case of grisly murder and mutilation. The German-born murder victim, Jarvinia Baudler, is a nasty piece of work with diplomatic connections, a shady sexual history, and a dubious past connected with a post-war Italian family of a girlhood friend of hers. Aside from the mystery's wry and riveting social commentary on life in current-day Bell' Italia, we also get a tantalizing whiff of the love interest that had led the handsome and committed Cenni into his investigative career. (This reader is ready for more than a whiff in the next Cenni mystery!) Layers of complication, atmosphere, social nuance, and a palette of intriguingly wierd suspects make this a must-read.
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Format: Hardcover
Chiara, a woman leaning into the wind, pressed against the railing of a crowded waterbus on a Venetian canal, her straight black hair falling across the angry scar on her beautiful face, is a haunting presence in the second of Grace Brophy's Commissario Cenni series, A Deadly Paradise. She was the woman Cenni loved for her laughter and her irreverence, the woman he believed had been murdered twenty years earlier, and the reason he turned to police work. Deftly drawn, Chiara reappears at the heart of the book, and Cenni's search for the killers of a German-born cultural attache who knew too many secrets in occupied Venice during World War II is entwined with his search for her.

Reading about Cenni's investigations is a little like walking through a portrait gallery in a dark and cavernous Venetian palazzo, where characters step out of paintings with all their eccentricities and malice. Harboring long held hatreds, they connive with murderous intent. The settings are evocative, the politics intriguing. The murder takes place in a quiet Umbrian village, conjuring up the brutal murders of a mother and child in the same place fifty years earlier. It is a village where everyone knows each other's business but no one wants to dredge up the past.

When the latest murder victim, a selfish and egotistical expert on Renaissance art, discovers that vast sums of counterfeit money missing since the war were used to buy art after the fighting ended, she blackmails everyone involved, who would all like to see her dead. But they're not the only ones--friends she betrayed thirst for revenge; her secretary hates her; her landlord is trying to evict her and the neighbors want her out.
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Format: Hardcover
What a swell, artfully complicated, beautifully characterized murder mystery! The peaceful village setting in the Umbrian hills intensifies the twists and turns and violence of the tale while Inspector Cenni, Brophy's handsome, melancholy,sports-loving police detective, must pit his wits and experience not only against an unknown murderer but his own superior as well. (I loved the brief encounter with Cenni's mom and her circle of "moneyed matrons in competition with one another.") The more we find out about Jarvinia, the murder victim, the less we like her. And the exchange of letters at the center is brilliant,moving the narrative and giving an added perspective to some very interesting characters. The story gets more and more riveting as the labyrinth is illuminated with partial explanation. "A Deadly Paradise" is a dark puzzle, well crafted, and a terrific read. I hope Grace Brophy keeps 'em coming!
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