I thought it would be easy to review this book, since it’s one of my favorite mysteries, but I was wrong. It’s hard to distill the whole of the book into its parts without losing something of its essence.
Elizabeth Edmunsen weaves a wonderful tale of loss, life and love as she brings five strangers, one of whom is uninvited, together for the reading of the will of a woman unknown to all of them.
The story itself could be common place, you have seen it play out as a thriller or a horror story, or even a farce, but Edmunsen tells her mystery with great skill. Her characters are real, believable and flawed, her love story has stumbles and triumphs, and her fleeting yet vivid descriptions of the villa and its gardens leave a delightful read of discovery and atmosphere, capturing the essence of central Italy.
From the moment that Jessica climbs through the window of her friend Delia’s apartment, the story keeps moving at a flowing pace even while the characters slow and speed up. Each of the main characters is carrying a deep unresolved pain, which they must exorcise if they are to uncover the mysteries of the Villa Dante, and its late owner Beatrice Malaspena.
The beauty of this book is that the carefully crafted ensemble reveal more about themselves in each reading, and the book lays crumbles of clues that are so well hidden that it is worth reading again and again. I still find it a compelling read, and the ending is satisfyingly coy, leaving you wanting more.
I give this book five stars, but then it is possibly one of my favorite mysteries. One to pack for the summer holidays.
Favorite Quote: “”
Favorite Character: the late Beatrice Malaspena
Rating: 5 stars