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?
Booklist - Bill Ott
Adam is a bit too callow to hold our attention the way the robust Basque did in Amagansett, but there is plenty here to captivate those who like high culture mixed with high crime
Another deftly plotted and suspenseful tale full of entertaining characters and set in a marvelously sensual locale. Readers who enjoyed his first book will not be disappointed. Highly recommended.
Starred Review. This engrossing literary novel...deserves to be a bestseller.
A murder puzzle wrapped around a literary deconstruction grounded in a perceptive study of seduction and survival. Sublime.
The Independent - Barry Forshaw
So iridescent is the prose that one is prepared to forgive the odd mélange of books that jostle behind the narrative .... But Mills is a skilful writer, and combines all of these disparate strands into a striking tapestry.
The Guardian - Laura Wilson
Mills weaves together an intriguing mixture of love, loss and divided loyalties, making The Savage Garden just as fascinating as his magnificent first novel, The Whaleboat House.
BookBrowse Note: The Whaleboat House was the UK title of Mills' first novel, published first in the USA as Amagansett.
Recent Reader Reviews
Rated of 5
by Kimberley review I thought it was very dull and boring. Adam almost bore me to tears! Along with every other character in this book. I was always waiting for something more exciting to happen, but it never did.
Rated of 5
by Anno Savage Garden I was really enjoying the book till about halfway through then I just wanted it to move on the pace was so slow, it just got boring. I had guessed the killer early on and really wanted to be proved wrong as it was predictable. After reading the... Read More
Rated of 5
by Kim Wow! Everything a mystery should be I picked up Savage Garden based on the reviews here on BookBrowse, and I'm delighted that I did. This is an uncommon and exceptional mystery novel. It's a bit different in that there really isn't any question as to who murdered whom. The... Read More
Rated of 5
by Liz M. The Savage Garden I loved this book, I couldn't put it down. It was a mystery and a love story taking place in Italy. I highly recommend it.
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
Memorial Dagger award, awarded
to previously unpublished
A graduate of Cambridge
University, Mills lived for
several years in Tuscany, where
he had a business renovating...
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