In idyllic Umbria, a murder of unspeakable brutality forces the revelation of ugly secrets.
The body of an elderly German diplomat is discovered when a neighbor’s cat wanders into her rented house. Jarvinia Baudler’s murder is certainly a rare occurrence in the beautiful village of Paradiso, but it’s not unprecedented. Decades earlier a young girl and her mother were killed with similar brutality, the bodies found by a playmate of the girl, the perpetrator never identified. Not only is Jarvinia’s house the same place where the previous brutal murder occurred, but Jarvinia’s landlady Anita Tangassi, with whom she was feuding at the time of her death, was the little girl who found the bodies. Nor is there any dearth of other suspects in this more recent murder. Jarvinia’s prickly personality, her nationality and her open lesbianism—she had a flamboyant African lover called Queenie—earned her a long list of enemies. From the beginning, Commissario Alessandro “Alex” Cenni knows that the case is sensitive, but he’s taken aback by the discovery that the victim had her private parts hacked off postmortem. Fortunately, his second in the investigation is the discreet and experienced Elena, his only competent deputy.
In Cenni’s second appearance (The Last Enemy, 2007), Brophy adds new texture to her crisp narrative through the perspectives of several suspects alternating with the Inspector’s clear-eyed analysis.