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Indecent Secrets

The Infamous Murri Murder Affair

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Description

On a hot summer day in Italy in 1902, the brutally stabbed body of Count Francesco Bonmartini was discovered, by means of its decomposing stench, inside his locked apartment. He was a typical Italian provincial aristocrat in all but one way: he had married into a prominent but deeply troubled family. His father-in-law was one of the nation's most famous doctors. His wife, Linda, a young freethinker, was the apple of her father's eye. Linda's brother dabbled in anarchism. Linda's lover was her father's top assistant. Her relations with them were illicit, incestuous -- and murderous.

The scandal that erupted was a top news story in Europe and America for three consecutive years. Investigators uncovered successive layers of a conspiracy that constantly twisted and changed its shape. The suspects included all these men as well as their servants and lovers. There was a diverse array of murder weapons, including knives, heavy pellets, and poison. There were rumors of missing accomplices. Intimate relations among many suspects were uncovered through sensational letters and testimonials. Witnesses died mysteriously. A suspect tried to kill himself. One question lingered throughout and still haunts researchers today: what role did Bonmartini's widow, Linda, known as "The Enchantress," play? Was she the spider at the center of the vast web, or did the plot originate with the key men who loved her so desperately?

Scholar and writer Christina Vella combines meticulous research with a novelist's eye for a great story. As she unspools the tight, tense drama, she offers a fascinating picture of Italian society in the early 20th century, with a historian's insights into life at both the top and the bottom. From sexual dysfunctions, to prison conditions, to the patronage systems that permeated medicine, law, and politics, the Bonmartini murder provides a window into a rich world. The result is an unforgettable story and an invaluable introduction to an Italy that is still recognizable today.

From Publishers Weekly

31 October 2005 – Courtroom buffs captivated by such media circuses as the Michael Jackson and O.J. Simpson trials should relish Vella's retelling of a crime that in its day was as notorious. The 1902 stabbing of an aristocratic Italian doctor in his home in Bologna led to a massive investigation and the arrests of his widow, his brother-in-law and several others. While there was little genuine mystery about whose hand landed the fatal blows (one of which was powerful enough to shatter the victim's breastbone)—the brother-in-law confessed in an effort to spare his sister from prosecution—there were enough unanswered questions, as well as salacious rumors, to captivate the Italian public for years. The widow's complex, and possibly incestuous, relationships with her brother and father, as well as her extramarital affair, all invited scrutiny and piqued public curiosity. Despite an occasional lapse into an artless simile ("like the silkworms on his mulberry trees, he spent his days on the estate"), Vella has repeated the success of her earlier Intimate Enemies with a gripping narrative filled with complicated and enigmatic figures that should enthrall a wide readership. 16 pages of b&w photos, not seen by PW.
Indecent Secrets
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  • 22,99 €
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: History
  • Published: 20 January 2006
  • Publisher: Free Press
  • Print Length: 416 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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