A beautiful Tuscan villa, a mysterious garden, two hidden murders – one from the 16th century, one from the twentieth – and a family riven by dark secrets combine in this evocative, intriguing mystery set in post-War Italy.
In 1958, Adam Strickland, a young Cambridge scholar, travels to the Villa Docci in Tuscany to study a sixteenth-century garden. Designed and laid out by a grieving husband to the memory of his dead wife, it is a mysterious world of statues, grottoes, meandering rills and classical inscriptions.
But tragedy has hit the Docci family more recently. The German occupation during World War 2 had a devastating impact on them, and the tensions between collaborators and partisans were played out within their own tight circle.
Adam is fascinated by the Doccis and increasingly aware that there are dangerous secrets hidden within the family domain.The garden itself starts to exercise a powerful influence over his imagination, its iconography seeming to point to some deeper, darker truth than was first apparent. And what really lay behind a killing at the villa towards the end of the war?
Past and present, love and intrigue, intertwine in an evocative mystery which vividly captures the experience of an innocent abroad in the uncertain world of post-War Italy.
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Praise for ‘The Whaleboat House’:
‘A master of the art of murderous storytelling.’ Sunday Times
‘This is an intriguing, atmospheric, literary crime novel. The uneasy juxtaposition of two communities is brilliantly evoked by Mark Mills.’ Daily Mail
‘Subtle and stylish…Mills is clever, unravelling the story from several angles.' Observer
‘The requisite qualities of a film script – atmospheric details, lucidity and a simple, spare style.' Sunday Telegraph
‘A very rich book – rich in detail and history and local color; rich in characters and conflict and mystery; and, most importantly, rich in wonderful writing.’ John Grisham
‘Complex and compelling…Mark Mills reveals himself to be a master storyteller.' Val McDermid
‘A striking and assured first thriller…worldly and impeccably researched.’ William BoydFrom the Publisher:
Mark Mills's debut `The Whaleboat House' won the John Creasey
Memorial Dagger for Best First Crime Novel of the Year.
A brilliantly written, atmospheric novel, which will appeal to anyone who
loved `The Shadow of the Wind' and `Winter in Madrid'.
Chosen for the 2007 Richard & Judy Summer Reads.
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