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The savage garden
Mark Mills
Adult Fiction MILLS

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From Publishers' Weekly:

Two murders committed 400 years apart form the core of British author Mills's outstanding second novel (after Amagansett, which won a CWA Dagger Award). In 1958, Cambridge undergraduate Adam Strickland, who's studying a curious Tuscan Renaissance garden for his art history thesis, is equally intrigued by both the garden of the Villa Docci estate and its elderly owner, Signora Francesca Docci. Built by the villa's first owner, Federico Docci, in 1577, the garden was intended as a memorial to his wife, Flora, who died when she was only 25. In the course of his research, Adam begins to sense that events, both past and present, are not as clear-cut as they appear. In particular, he discovers that there are several versions of the death of Signora Docci's oldest son, Emilio, who was shot by the villa's German occupiers at the end of WWII. Adam is hailed by all when he comes up with a novel theory explaining Flora's death in 1548, but when he begins to speculate on Emilio's demise, he finds himself in serious danger. This engrossing literary novel, like Amagansett, deserves to be a bestseller. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

From Library Journal:

In the summer of 1958, young Cambridge scholar Adam Strickland is sent to Tuscany by his professor to study the memorial garden of the Villa Docci. Dedicated to the memory of Signor Docci's wife, who died in the 16th century, the garden is an amazing and surreal world of statues, grottoes, arbors, and mysterious inscriptions. Adam begins to suspect that it may even hold clues to the murder of the young Signora Docci. (The mystery of the sealed third-floor rooms, with its Dantesque symbolism, becomes as enticing and dangerous as that of the garden.) As his research progresses, Adam is drawn into a parallel intrigue involving the present-day Doccis and the murder of one of the current signora's sons during the villa's German occupation. Like an onion, the layers of the Villa Docci's past are delicately peeled away, revealing centuries of love, infidelity, murder, and greed amid the lustrous Tuscan hills. Mills follows his debut novel, Amagansett, with another deftly plotted and suspenseful tale full of entertaining characters and set in a marvelously sensual locale. Readers who enjoyed his first book will not be disappointed. Highly recommended. [See Prepub Mystery, LJ 1/07.]-Susan Clifford Braun, Aerospace Corp. Lib., El Segundo, CA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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main characters Adam Strickland
Studying a Tuscan Renaissance garden and the family's estate for his art history thesis.
College student

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