It's not often that an author's first book wins the coveted Tip of the Ice Pick Award, so extra congrats are in order for Grace Brophy, whose The Last Enemy tops this month's recommendations. Set in Assisi during Holy Week, The Last Enemy chronicles the investigation into the murder of a wealthy American woman. It should be a cakewalk for experienced Commissario Alessandro Cenni, but he runs into opposition at every turn. His boss wants a scapegoat, and fast; the aristocratic Casati household will tolerate little intrusion into their daily routine for something as sordid as a murder investigation; and even the Catholic church is putting heavy pressure to bear on the case. Brophy draws from experience when depicting the Assisi area: She lives part-time in Umbria The characters are rich and involving the clever and commanding Cenni, a sensual and witchy Croatian florist, a priest who sacrifices his vows for a beautiful woman. Fans of Donna Leon or Hakan Nesser will be ecstatic to find a kindred spirit in Grace Brophy.

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