Death of a Serpent is the first book in the Serafina Florio mystery series. Its story takes place in November 1866, six years after Garibaldi and his Thousand marched from Marsala to Messina and overthrew foreign rule once and for all.
The summer and early fall of 1866 saw uprisings in the villages surrounding Palermo. Rosa’s statue, the bust of Mary Magdalene, describes the times:
Now no more battles, no more Bourbons, but where’s the end to misery? Clowns rule. Cholera buries thousands in a blink. Bandits stream down from the Madonie and maul with homemade scythes. And something worse I cannot name: a monster, new and sinister and clothed in the costume of a cheap puttana, snakes its way into the highest seats of power.
“Too flowery by half,” Rosa says. “All the statue needs to say is, ‘The wheels are coming off.’”
Serafina’s note: For a history of Sicily, see Best of Sicily.