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Publishers Weekly Starred Review: "The book's strongest appeal is in its convincing portrayal of life under Mussolini."

Date: Sep 22 2014

De Giovanni's second novel featuring Naples Police Commisario Luigi Alfredo Ricciardi (after 2012's I Will Have Vengeance) combines a rare setting for a whodunit, Fascist Italy, with a classic fair play puzzle and a highly unusual lead. After a lyrical and tantalizing opening ("The angel of death made its way through the festa, and nobody noticed"), Ricciardi is introduced—a diligent investigator who keeps to himself, and who, in a startling early reveal, sees the ghosts of murder victims. He's given a fresh crime to solve after Duchess Adriana Musso di Camparino is found in her apartment with a bullet hole in the center of her forehead. The obvious suspect is her not-so-secret lover, Mario Capece, a prominent newspaper editor, whose position in society makes the inquiry a sensitive one. As intriguing as the mystery is, the book's strongest appeal is in its convincing portrayal of life under Mussolini, which included government directives to demobilize crime reporters and bar reporting of stories that could have "an unhealthy effect on the spirits of the mentally weak." (Nov. 2013)

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