Friday, June 27, 2008

Mystery Book Review: A Deadly Paradise by Grace Brophy

Mysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, is publishing a new review of A Deadly Paradise by Grace Brophy. For our blog readers, we are printing it first here in advance of its publication on our website.

A Deadly Paradise by Grace BrophyBuy from Amazon.com

A Deadly Paradise by
A Commissario Alessandro Cenni Mystery

Soho Crime (Hardcover)
ISBN-10: 1-56947-491-5 (1569474915)
ISBN-13: 978-1-56947-491-4 (9781569474914)
Publication Date: May 2008
List Price: $24.00

Synopsis (from the publisher): In the peaceful Umbrian village of Paradiso, the shocking murder and mutilation of an elderly German woman is barely credible. That is, until Inspector Alessandro Cenni of the State Police discovers that this retired cultural attach was not just a difficult tenant, but also a bisexual swinger with an African lover recently in residence, as well as a blackmailer. The dead woman grew up in occupied , and some of her secrets may have been acquired that long ago, during World War II. And the bucolic village is not that innocent: It was the site of a famous, scandalous murder fifty years earlier.

Cenni's boss wants a scapegoat, and the young African lesbian is the obvious target, but Cenni cannot bring himself to close a case without solving the crime and bringing the actual perpetrator to justice.

Review: Commissario Alessandro Cenni and his colleague Elena investigate the brutal murder of a 70-year-old woman living an unrestrained and unbounded life in the peaceful Umbrrian village of Paradiso in A Deadly Paradise, the second mystery in this series by Grace Brophy.

The dead woman was Jarvinia Baudler, found in the basement of a home she rented from Anita Tangasse in Paradiso. A neighbor, Lorenzo Vinnicelli, found her. During the course of their investigation, Cenni and Elena come across an unsolved murder from 1978. Two bodies, that of a mother and child, were grimly mutilated and killed in the same house where Baudler’s body was found. Was it just a coincidence that Lorenzo Vinnicelli was their neighbor at the time? They go on to discover that Baudler held secrets concerning the Italians and Germans dating back to 1945. These secrets included a conspiracy of the two governments to counterfeit billions of US dollars to weaken the United States currency. Baudler was in possession of a Swedish letter confirming this action. With that, and other indecorousness on her part, Baudler was able to blackmail wealthy people to keep their indiscretions from the eyes and ears of others. She even pitted a brother against sister to gain their wealth. Baudler would use her charm and beguiling ways on men as well as women to obtain any and all information she needed to carry on her blackmailing activities. The residents of Paradiso did not like her and for a very good reason. After interrogating just about every one in the village, and traveling to other cities both in Italy and Germany, Cenni and Elena are at a stand still. Everyone seemed to have an alibi for the time of the evil woman's murder. Or was someone giving another an alibi to secure his or her own?

A Deadly Paradise is one of those quiet mysteries that grows in depth and complexity as the pages are turned. There are, however, a couple of side stories that don't seem to quite fit into the overall plotline but are interesting nonetheless. As a character, Commissario Cenni is a laid back and charming investigator, but with deadly aplomb when need be. In the end he ties together the loose ends but after all the effort in getting there, it seems a bit weak. This is just a minor issue, though, in an otherwise generally superior effort.

Special thanks to guest reviewer Betty of for contributing her review of A Deadly Paradise and to Soho Crime for providing an ARC of the book for this review.

Review Copyright © 2008 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved.

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