Why did Francesca Nobili kill herself in Naples on Good Friday in 1961? What forces could drive a fervent believer in the redemption of humankind to the most desperate of human acts, to prefer an operatic staging of her death over her ideals and militant faith in social progress? In a diary that walks the subtlest of lines between fact and fiction, Ermanno Rea returns after thirty years to Naples, his beloved, petrified city, to discover why his unforgettable friend chose death over life. An intimate account of the Cold War, A Mystery in Naples explores how the great forces of history permeate our most vulnerable hopes and needs. Rea's Naples in the 1950s is a front line city in the battle between Stalin's communism and the West's transformation of its port into a vast military base run on secrecy and corruption. The author plunges into the city, excavates his own memory, digs up sources, and meets politicians, bureaucrats, journalists and activists who were friends and enemies of Francesca, many of whom are torn by regret about their collusion to survive those bitter years of belligerence. Rea's private inquest gradually expands to become the collective history of a still-scarred generation.