I won a copy of this book from the Goodreads Firstreads program.
One of the ways I've learned to recognize that I'm reading a great suspense book is by...moreI won a copy of this book from the Goodreads Firstreads program.
One of the ways I've learned to recognize that I'm reading a great suspense book is by how tempted I am to cheat - to look at the last few pages of the book to see if I'm guessing correctly. In mediocre books, I rarely need to cheat - I either know who the bad guy is or I just don't care. I had a very difficult time not looking with this one. This is a murder mystery, with the first murder occurring a little over a decade after the end of World War II in Italy. A police investigator suspects that the murder is related to the family's experiences in the turbulent last days of the war. Three distinct points of view are used to tell the story. There is a first person narrative from the killer, there's a 1950s third person narrative, usually focusing on the detective but sometimes on other key characters, and there is a flashback narrative, describing the events during the last years of the war.
The author was great at slowly revealing mysterious details throughout the book, leaving the resolution of the larger mysteries until the last few pages. I also felt like the characterization was very strong. I became attached to each of the characters, even when their imperfections were revealed.
From a psychological mystery standpoint, I was a bit unhappy with the ending. Even though we had a first person narrative from the killer, I felt like the killer was one of the weaker characters. I think that maybe this was necessary to keep the reader from knowing who the killer was too soon. I could conceive of several possible killers from the pool of potential suspects. When finally revealed, the motivation for the murders seemed kind of suspect, given the world situation at the time.
Like The Book Thief, this book made me rethink some of my assumptions about World War II. Both books showed me how simplistic and inaccurate my black and white way of looking at history was. I was very sympathetic towards Cristina and her romance with a young Nazi. Knowing that a happy ending was unlikely did not keep me from wishing for one. And I'd honestly never given a thought to the nuances separating Italian soldiers and German soldiers.
When I finished reading, I still wanted to know more about Serafina. Maybe the author is intending to write a sequel? I would happily read it, but I doubt it would be as good as this first book :)
I recommend this book to anyone interested in historical suspense. And if you like this book, I recommend the books by Rennie Airth. (less)
I won a copy of this book through the Goodreads FirstReads program. This was slow going for me at first, but once I got into it, I really enjoyed it. S...moreI won a copy of this book through the Goodreads FirstReads program. This was slow going for me at first, but once I got into it, I really enjoyed it. Sadie, the main character in this story, is a woman who is haunted by her past. Two young girls from her very small town disappeared when she was young. The second disappearance happened as she is on the edge of adolescence and coincided with some troubled events in her family life. After Sadie experiences the stillbirth of a child, she feels pulled back into the past by the reappearance of one of the central characters in the earlier trauma. As I read the story, I gradually came to realize that Sadie was trapped emotionally in that summer in her life. The tragic events that caused Sadie grief also separated her from anyone who might have been able to help her through her experience of grief. When she experiences another major loss as an adult, she is afraid she is doomed to end up coping with grief as her mother did. Sadie still carries the emotional scars of her mother's less than effective way of dealing with grief. Sadie also agonizes over her own perceived failures as a wife and mother. Since her own relationship with her mother was cut short at a young age, I think she has an unrealistic expectation of trying to be the "perfect" mother. At the core, this book strikes a truth about motherhood; all mothers are first imperfect people. I think that's why I was so self-righteously upset at the beginning of the book and unable to connect with Sadie. I was judging her as a mother and found her to be imperfect. Her cold method of dealing with her grief and her interest in the man from her past are very off-putting - intentionally, I think. As I read further and got to know Sadie better, she started to make more sense. In addition to motherhood, this book also made me think about personality and choices. Sadie, like her mother, has spent most of her life acting a part. She has now hit a point where she has to figure out who she really is. She is afraid that she won't like herself and that she'll be stuck. I like that by the end of the book, Sadie realizes that through her choices, she has some power to actually create herself. Her personality is not fixed but is instead a conglomeration of her choices. The mystery of the missing girls keeps the book moving along. You know something is going to happen, but you're not sure what. And the book keeps flipping back and forth from the past to the present; this serves to keep the tension and interest level high. I'd recommend this book for anyone who likes character driven suspense. (less)
John Sandford does a great job with these books. Hard to believe I've read 23 of the Lucas Davenport books and am still able to be engrossed in the st...moreJohn Sandford does a great job with these books. Hard to believe I've read 23 of the Lucas Davenport books and am still able to be engrossed in the story. I'm a sucker for a good series - I think it's a bit of laziness on my part, I don't have to learn new characters - but usually after five or six the stories start to get old. Now, I can't wait for the next one. I guess I could go ahead and read the Kidd books....(less)
Once again, I am reading a series out of order...reading this felt like a trip back in time, since I already knew quite a bit about the Snow White kil...moreOnce again, I am reading a series out of order...reading this felt like a trip back in time, since I already knew quite a bit about the Snow White killer and the Pretender. (less)