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The Last Enemy

The Last Enemy

4.6 3
by Grace Brophy

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Introducing Commissario Cenni of Umbria's State Police

Rita Minelli grew up in Brooklyn, the only child of a narcissistic Italian mother and the GI she married at the end of World War II. After her mother’s death, Rita quits her teaching job and descends upon her poor but aristocratic relatives, the Count and Countess Casati, in Assisi. It is a while


Introducing Commissario Cenni of Umbria's State Police

Rita Minelli grew up in Brooklyn, the only child of a narcissistic Italian mother and the GI she married at the end of World War II. After her mother’s death, Rita quits her teaching job and descends upon her poor but aristocratic relatives, the Count and Countess Casati, in Assisi. It is a while before they realize, to their chagrin, that Rita has come to stay. But when the family assembles to watch the penitents procession in the town square during Easter Week, Rita does not join them as planned. Her corpse is later found in the family mausoleum.

Alessandro Cenni, a commissario in the State Police of Umbria, must unearth the secrets of the Casati family and their circle if he is to discover who killed Rita and why. But he is blocked by their powerful right-wing connections, and by a superior who would rather arrest a scapegoat than risk political suicide. Aided by a loyal staff in his quest for justice, he still must acknowledge that no one can defeat the last enemy, death itself.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Praise for The Last Enemy

“[Brophy shows] real compassion for a middle-aged American woman who horrifies her late mother’s Italian relations by moving into their mansion in Assisi . . . The story flourishes in its cloistered setting.”
The New York Times Book Review

“Fans of Donna Leon or Håkan Nesser will be ecstatic to find a kindred spirit in Grace Brophy.”
BookPage, Mystery of the Month

“Evocative . . . Cenni is well set up to return, and traditional mystery readers should welcome his continued investigations.”
The Baltimore Sun

The Last Enemy, Grace Brophy’s mystery in an Umbrian setting like no other, serves up more delights than the local pasticceria. The murder of Italian-American Rita Minelli during Holy Week in Assisi, with its warren of winding alleys, hidden squares and steep cobbled stairways, poses questions for Commissario Alessandro Cenni, not the least, those concerning a 17th-century manuscript, a Croatian immigrant, and a reclusive Contessa. With pressure from Rome, the Commissario’s own job is on the line. Brophy’s wry laser-like insight probes the layers of Italian aristocracy, the police system and the clergy with a sure, deft touch.”
—Cara Black, New York Times

Publishers Weekly

Commissario Alessandro Cenni delves into the secret lives of the members of the aristocratic Casati family in Assisi, Italy, after their American niece is murdered during Holy Week in Brophy's rock-solid debut. When Brooklyn transplant Rita Minelli turns up dead in the family cemetery vault, Cenni interrogates her relatives, who were not pleased when she came to live with them and don't seem especially sorry to see her go. Cenni is positive that one of the Casatis is the murderer; his only question, considering that each appears to have had either motive or the means, is who. The deeper he probes, the more this family makes the Borgias look well adjusted. This well-paced murder mystery carries the reader along even after the identity of the culprit becomes clear. Believable narrative twists combined with excellent characterization, rich dialogue and a finely depicted setting will please lovers of old-style deductive detective fiction. (May)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Kirkus Reviews
Umbria's urbane Commissario, Alessandro Cenni, investigates the murder of an expatriate American in Assisi. All her life, Brooklyn teacher Rita Minelli was devoted to her namesake saint and an idealized vision of her mother's hometown of Assisi, where mom fell in love with Rita's GI father. When her mother dies and is returned to Italy for her funeral, Rita surprises family and friends on both sides of the Atlantic by deciding to stay on. It's only a couple of years later that "the American lady" is found murdered in the local cemetery, on Good Friday no less. Handsome Commissario Cenni comes straight from a football game in Perugia to investigate. The murder scene has been staged with suspicious neatness, with Rita's panties pulled down in a false suggestion of rape. The suspects run from the Croatian flower lady Sophie Orlic, who found Rita's body and appropriated her purse, allegedly for safekeeping, to Rita's local relatives, the influential Casati family, all of them with lots of motives and little love for her. Count Umberto and his wife Amelia considered her a nuisance. Their daughter Artemisia, a rising star in the art world, denies any friendship in the face of contrary evidence. Cenni methodically questions everyone, ruminating at length after each interview. The discovery of Rita's diary provides clues and surprises. The first in a proposed series, Brophy's leisurely debut has an old-fashioned feel and charm aplenty.

Product Details

Soho Press, Incorporated
Publication date:
Commissario Cenni Investigation Series , #1
Product dimensions:
5.00(w) x 7.50(h) x 0.80(d)

Related Subjects

Meet the Author

Born in New Jersey to Irish parents, Grace Brophy lived and worked as a teacher and systems engineer in New York City until 2001, when she and her late husband, figurative painter Miguel Peraza, traveled to Italy with their two cats. While still in Italy, she began The Last Enemy, her first work of fiction. Her second Commissario Cenni novel, A Deadly Paradise, is also published by Soho Press.

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Last Enemy 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
I loved this book and Alessandro Cenni, Brophy¿s detective. The Umbrian setting is right on¿I¿ve been to Assisi and I loved following her detective as he goes about the business of finding the killer. What I particularly liked about this book in contrast to many others is that the characters have life beyond the plot devices. I wasn¿t tempted at any point to check the back of the book to find out `whodunit.¿ I¿m really looking forward to reading other books in the series.
harstan More than 1 year ago
Her father, an American GI, met her Italian mother while stationed in Italy during WWII. Over the objections of her parents, they married, went to the United States to live in Brooklyn, and had a daughter. Years later, the child, now a school teacher Rita Minnelli, mourns the death of her mom so decides to travel to Assisi, Italy to meet her maternal relatives.--------------- Count and Countess Casati do not welcome the foreigner even if she shares their blood. They become chagrined when they realize she plans to stay. Not long afterward, Rita¿s welcome ends when she turns up dead in the family vault while the entire town including the Casati clan celebrate Easter Week with the Penitente parade. State Police of Umbria Commissario Alessandro Cenni investigates the homicide even as the Casati crowd refuses to help his investigation instead they use their political connections to prevent a deep inquiry.----------------- This is a terrific Italian historical police procedural in which Cenni finds that every step he takes there are official roadblocks and a dysfunctional family that makes his teeth hurt. The story line is fast-paced and never slows down even after the audience knows the identity of the killer for there remains a case to prove. Grace Brophy provides an entertaining whodunit.------------------ Harriet Klausner