Quite a jolt for Roman radio journalist Michela Canova's new series on unsolved crimes against women—her reclusive neighbor, Angela Bari, has just been stabbed to death. With shock and shame, Michela realizes she hardly knew Angela, whose name she has to find out from the doorkeeper. Was she an heiress, a model, an aspiring actress, or (as a prostitute hesitantly informs her) a high-class working girl? And was she killed by her breathlessly self-involved lover, her envious sister, or the alleged pimp who's been hanging around her apartment? Or is the culprit (as a consultant at the radio station suggests) the ingrained misogyny of a violent male society, or perhaps the viciousness of human nature in general? Since Maraini (The Silent Duchess, etc., not reviewed) is a novelist of considerable ambitions, and since her estimable heroine, after all, is researching a story on unsolved mysteries, there's no guarantee that she'll ever come up with a solution to this one. The only certainty is that the skein of voices Michela captures in her tape-recorded interviews will go on echoing long after she's taken off the story. ``The fact that she has been so brutally torn apart suddenly seems like something that has been done to me,'' Michela reflects early on. Maraini shines in showing how Michela, in trying to capture a sense of her mysterious dead neighbor, is struggling to define herself as well.
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