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Villa Triste Paperback – Jan 22 2013
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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.
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.