VILLA TRISTE by Lucretia Grindle
Kirkus Star


Email this review


Grindle (The Lost Daughter, 2012, etc.) combines a contemporary mystery with historical fiction in her captivating narrative about Italian partisans in World War II and a modern-day police inspector determined to uncover certain truths.

With the Nazi occupation of Italy, life for young Caterina Cammaccio and her family quickly shifts focus. Instead of spending time preparing for her wedding with her mother and Isabella, her younger sister, she is reluctantly drawn into using her skills as a nurse to assist wounded Allies and endangered Jews and to help spirit them out of the country. Keenly aware that any captured resistance members risk torture, imprisonment and possible death, Caterina tries to shield her parents from involvement. But they, like her brother and sister, are determined to do their part, and the family furtively harbors a radio and transmits sensitive information to the Allies. In haunting words and gripping detail, Caterina documents her family’s experiences in a journal, a gift from Isabella, where she examines her life, explores her fears and reflects upon the savagery of the war. Years later, three partisan members associated with the Cammaccio family are found murdered, and Inspector Alessandro Pallioti steps in to investigate the politically sensitive deaths. Among the belongings in the safe of one of the victims he finds Caterina’s journal, and her words fuel his empathy and spur his determination to not only solve the murders, but also to discover what became of the sisters. Assisted by an American woman in search of a long-lost relative and the wealthy director of Remember the Fallen, Pallioti’s methodical investigation into the deaths proves to be just as fascinating as the tale of the sisters. The author creates believable and sympathetic characters that engage the reader as she expertly overlaps, merges and resolves the two stories.  

Grindle’s book is a good modern-day mystery, a very good historical narrative and an excellent combination of the two.

Pub Date: Jan. 22nd, 2013
ISBN: 978-1-4555-0537-1
Page count: 640pp
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1st, 2012


FictionTHE ONE I LEFT BEHIND by Jennifer McMahon
by Jennifer McMahon
FictionTHE HISTORY OF US by Leah Stewart
by Leah Stewart
FictionTRUTH IN ADVERTISING by John Kenney
by John Kenney


NonfictionYESTERDAY, TODAY, TOMORROW by Sophia Loren
by Sophia Loren
FictionTHE ENGLISH GERMAN GIRL by Jake Wallis Simons
by Jake Wallis Simons