In 2006 in Florence, Italy, Police Detective Allesandro Pallioti investigates the murder of a WWII "honored hero" Giovanni Trantemento. He soon learns someone is executing "honored heroes of the Resistance" with a bullet to their respective heads and symbolic salt poured into their mouths. Pallioti learns much more about the "honored heroes" who seemingly readapted to civilian life after the war ended and the motive for their murders when he finds Caterina Cammaccio's war diary on Trantemento's desk.
In 1943 Italians hear rumors that the country has signed an armistice and Bagdolio fled Rome. Caterina expects her oldest brother Enrico to come home from Rome and her fiancé naval medic Lodovicio to return from Northern Africa shortly and soon after they will marry. However, as the family prepares for her wedding and her mom's fiftieth birthday, the Nazis arrive. They take over Villa Triste where they incarcerate and interrogate partisans and their supporters while hunting Jews. Caterina's sister Isabella resolutely supports efforts to force the Germans from Villa Triste.
Rotating eras between the 2006 investigation and the 1943-44 resistance, Lucretia Grindle provides a taut deft police procedural-historical blend. Readers will enjoy Pallioto's inquiry as he copes with more than a serial killer; pondering "what happens when the statue on the pedestal comes crumbling to the ground" (Blessed Is the Rain by Brooklyn Bridge). The 1940s entries are also top rate, especially the diary, as the war arrives in Florence causing the upper class sisters and others to deal with the occupiers. Villa Triste is a strong thriller.