From the author of Conversations With Lord Byron on Perversion, 163 Years After His Lordship's Death (1987), etc., comes the artfully told story of a widow's attempt to solve the suspicious murder of her husband—a tale as much about the personal growth of a woman as about a murder investigation. Juliet is English by birth and Italian by her marriage to industrialist Lorenzo Gherardi. In 1970s Rome, the couple's leftish political views are both well known and a personal liability in a time of Red Brigade terrorism. But Lorenzo and Juliet are "Gucci socialists—well-off sympathizers who read Marx between silk sheets. They're safe until Lorenzo's death by a car bomb rips Juliet's life apart. Initially outraged that the police would assume her subversive husband to have been killed for participating in a terrorist plot, she hires sympathetic lawyer Paulo Sastri to help parry the abrasive questions of Carosi, the state prosecutor. Growing inconsistencies unsettle her confidence, however, and Juliet begins following a trail of clues leading to Lorenzo's identity as a terrorist, as well as to his infidelity to Juliet herself. In an unconventional twist, Juliet comes to admire the morally clear and quietly compassionate Carosi while rediscovering the domestic truths that her own ideological engagement had long neglected. Each phase of a persuasive plot nicely captures Juliet's evolving emotional timbre—her outrage, suspicion, paranoia, betrayal, and finally her courage—allowing her, as a fully dimensional character, to carry the complete weight of an engaging story. The eighth, and best, in this agile writer's long and continuing career, with startling twists, distinctive secondary players, and a narrative voice (Juliet's) of captivating emotional candor.
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