From the author of the acclaimed national bestseller Amagansett comes an even more remarkable novel set in the Tuscan hills: the story of two murders, four hundred years apart-and the ties that bind them together.
Adam Banting, a somewhat aimless young scholar at Cambridge University, is called to his professor's office one afternoon and assigned a special summer project: to write a scholarly monograph about a famous garden built in the 1500s. Dedicated to the memory of Signor Docci's dead wife, the garden is a mysterious world of statues, grottoes, meandering rills, and classical inscriptions. But during his three-week sojourn at the villa, Adam comes to suspect that clues to a murder are buried in the strange iconography of the garden: the long-dead Signor Docci most likely killed his wife and filled her memorial garden with pointers as to both the method and the motive of his crime.
As the mystery of the garden unfolds, Adam finds himself drawn into a parallel intrigue. Through his evolving relationship with the lady of the house - the ailing, seventy-something Signora Docci - he finds clues to yet another possible murder, this one much more recent. The signora's eldest son was shot by Nazi officers on the third floor of the villa, and her husband, now dead, insisted that the area be sealed and preserved forever. Like the garden, the third-floor rooms are frozen in time. Delving into his subject, Adam begins to suspect that his summer project might be a setup. Is he really just the naive student, stumbling upon clues, or is Signora Docci using him to discover for herself the true meaning of the villa's murderous past?
He was known, primarily, for his marrows.
This made him a figure of considerable suspicion to the ladies of the Horticultural Society, who, until his arrival on the scene, had vied quite happily amongst themselves for the most coveted award in the vegetable class at their annual show. The fact that he was a newcomer to the village no doubt fueled their resentments; that he lived alone with a housekeeper some years younger than himself, a woman whose cast of countenance could only be described as Oriental, permitted them to bury the pain of defeat in malicious gossip.
That first year he carried off the prize, I can recall Mrs. Meade and her cronies huddled together at the back of the marquee, like cows before a gathering storm. I can also remember the vicar, somewhat the worse for wear after an enthusiastic sampling of the cider entries, handing down his verdict on the marrow category. With an air of almost lascivious relish, he declared ...
Mills embroiders themes of passion, survival and divided family loyalties into a plot as deft and as civilized as the setting.
(Reviewed by BookBrowse Review Team).
Full Review (816 words).
Mark Mills is a novelist and screenwriter whose credits include the screenplay for The Reckoning, which he adapted from Barry Unsworth's novel Morality Play. His first novel, Amagansett, set in the small Long Island town of the same name in 1947, was published in the USA in 2004. In some countries, including the UK, it is titled The Whaleboat House. Described by one reviewer as Snow Falling on Cedars meets The Shipping News, Amagansett won the Crime Writer's of America John Creasey ...
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