Villa Triste is, in a word, superb. The plot is fantastic. The writing is excellent and elegant. The characters are believable. This is a truly glorious book. While it seems long, it is a fast read, and I devoured it in a couple of days. Now I am sad it wasn't longer.
The book covers what seem to be two separate sequences of events, although it is pretty clear from the start that they are connected. Florence in 1943-44 is the setting for one of them; Florence in 2006 the other. I do not want to say much about the plot, because I don't want to give it away, and other reviews have provided sufficient information about it. But it was wonderful. it draws you in, much as a superb painting can do. You are living with the characters. You are looking behind you, without looking behind you, for the enemy. . . . You hear the birds calling and feel the earth shake as the bombs drop. You watch over Inspector Palliotti's shoulder as he talks with yet another person, as he finds another clue, urging him to continue his investigation even when it seems like nothing but dead ends. You watch the stories unravel with bated breath.
This book is fantastic. Unbelievably, staggeringly good. Read it.