Book: Lucretia Grindle - The Villa Triste

Inspector Allesandro Palliotti, a handsome detective and reluctant star of Florence’s police service, takes on a murder investigation as a favour to the politically sensitive mayor.

Then there’s a second murder, and later a third.

The victims are all ageing men recently decorated for their courageous roles as partisans who fought German occupation of Italy in World War 2. But the killer left a wad of salt in their mouths – marking them as traitors.

The investigation links the present with a back-story of two sisters from a well-to-do family in Florence who were caught up in partisan activity in the dark days of 1943 and 1944 and who, records show, died in German captivity.

Bit by bit, past and present overlap, more so when an American woman appears, seeking to shed light on her long-dead Italian grandfather’s activities at the time.

The author merges a crime mystery with modern history, human courage and a surprising ending in an entertaining novel.

The Villa Triste by Lucretia Grindle

Mantle, R141,95

Rating: 3/5