cover image The Italian Couple

The Italian Couple

J.R. Rogers. J.R. Rogers, $4.99 e-book (434p) ASIN B07C4XW4MY

This suspenseful combination romance and espionage thriller centers on a married couple in despair in Fascist Italy under Benito Mussolini’s rule. In 1938, in the city of Asmara, known as Little Rome in the Italian Eritrea colony of East Africa, Col. Francesco Ferrazza, a cagey Italian military information officer, is tasked with Operation Red Lion, a sabotage operation ordered by Mussolini. Through manipulation and enticements, the colonel begins to groom local mechanic and novice race car driver Mario Caparrotti to carry out the destruction; one of the colonel’s schemes includes Mario becoming the lover of the colonel’s wife, British-born Emilia, who reluctantly goes along with the ruse. The sabotage scheme begins unraveling when Mario demands more money after becoming involved in the colonel’s cover-up of a murder, and Emilia begins an affair with Gyles Aiscroft, a British freelance foreign correspondent and part-time intelligence agent working for her father. The novel’s pacing is skillful and precise, leading ultimately to an unforeseen and terrifically satisfying ending. Rogers’s depiction of Asmara—its strategic significance, architecture, and how it was modeled after a typical Italian city, even incorporating a car race with Mario as a driver in the novel’s introduction—is both a richly visual impression of Rome and a dark reminder of Mussolini’s rule. [em](BookLife) [/em]