The latest undercover assignment for the FBI’s Ana Grey cuts uncomfortably close to the bone.
Cecilia Maria Nicosa, a physician in Siena, has a checkered family background that she’s convinced makes her a relative of Ana, who like Cecilia had a Salvadorian father named Sanchez. It’s a nice coincidence, because the FBI badly wants to plant an agent inside the household of Cecilia’s husband Nicoli, a wealthy coffee importer whose mistress, drug dealer/money launderer Lucia Vincenzo, has gone “white shotgun”—that is, missing, presumed murdered by mafia executioners who took brutal steps to insure that her body would never be found. FBI legat Sheila Kuser is convinced that Nicoli Nicosa is hand in glove with the crime families of Tuscany, and she wants Ana to squeeze Cecilia till she talks. But the job turns out to be considerably more ticklish. For one thing, Cecilia is a lot more closely related to Ana than either of them realizes—so closely that Ana has grave misgivings about her job. For another, Ana’s idyllic stay at the Abbazia di Santa Chiara during the racing festival of Palio is interrupted by a kidnapping. What makes it even trickier than the maddeningly sluggish pace of the kidnappers’ demands is Ana’s dawning realization that every one of the Nicosas—Nicoli, Cecilia and their teenaged son Giovanni—has ties to organized crime that could well be the death of them.
Though the Tuscan setting, now glowing, now rife with criminal activity, makes the horrors of Judas Horse (2008) seem both more picturesque and more normal, the FBI tradecraft summoned by the kidnapping rings true.