The untold stories of the women who have risen to prominence and notoriety in Italy's mafia—many more ruthless than the fathers and husbands they replaced—and the octogenarian murderer who decades ago blazed a bloody trail for them to follow. In 1955 in a public market outside Naples, Italy, a pregnant teenage widow named Assunta “Pupetta” Maresca encounters the man she believes to be her husband's killer. Minutes later, police find the man dead, riddled with an astonishing 29 bullets. Pupetta is arrested and convicted for his death. "I killed for love," she declares in court, "and I'd do it again!" It is the middle of the twentieth century. Italy is impoverished after the war. Criminal organization are springing up where governments fail their citizens. Women are considered adjunct to the growth of the criminal class; they are mothers who train sons in the primacy of blood feuds, or they are daughters and sisters who deliver messages for imprisoned male relatives. But Pupetta changes that. She is heralded "Lady Camorra," and in prison she takes on legendary stature, with films and TV shows produced to capitalize on her outlaw image. The crime and even the killing does not stop there for Pupetta, and though she is arguably the first mafia godmother, she is not the worst. Some of the women who follow in her footsteps will meet terrible fates; others will lead their clans. But if CNN correspondent and Daily Beast Rome bureau chief makes one thing clear in The Godmother, it's that as women seize ever more control of Italy's criminal underworld, they are proving themselves more vicious, cunning and cutthroat than the men they replace.