Doreen Fritz's Reviews > The Savage Garden

The Savage Garden by Mark Mills
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's review
Jul 19, 2012

really liked it
Read in October, 2008

A friend had recommended this mystery, saying she "couldn't put it down." I was between books, so decided to try it. I was leery because this particular friend has sometimes encouraged me to read books that felt a little too smart for me - i.e. I often felt too ignorant to appreciate the subtleties. The Savage Garden tells the story of Adam Strickland, a lackluster art history student at Cambridge, who travels to Italy to study a 16th century garden at Villa Docci for his thesis. The first owner of the villa, Federico Docci, had the garden built in honor of his dead wife Flora, and as Alex deciphers the sculptures -- their subjects, their placement, and their hidden meanings - he comes to suspect that the young Mrs. Docci's death was not an accident. As Alex comes to know the current owner of the villa, seventy-something Francesca Docci, he learns that her eldest son Emilio had been killed by the retreating Germans at the end of World War II -- but even that story becomes suspect over time. He is attracted to Signora Docci's granddaughter - and that attraction appears to be mutual --- but can Alex really trust Antonella? Who really killed Emilio, and what is he/she willing to do to protect the secret? I liked this book because of the setting - countryside Italy is rather exotic - the characters are deep and multifaceted - and the mystery kept me guessing til the end. I recommend this book.

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