Villa Triste by Lucretia Grindle, although longer than I normally read, (over 600 pages) is my favorite book so far this year.
The story begins in Florence, Italy in September 1943. Armistice has been declared between Italy and the Allies, but then the German occupation begins. Caterina, a nurse, witnesses the human cost of war and is caught up with her sister, Isabella's work in the resistance.
The story then returns to present day where Inspector Alessandro Pallioti takes over an investigation into the murder of an old man. At the crime scene he finds a diary which belonged to Caterina and through her journal the story begins to unfold, linking the old man, who has been killed, to the time of German Occupation.
What I liked:
First of all, the writing pulls you into the story. It's easy to picture the settings with flowing descriptions and the characters are well developed.
It also gave me an insight into Italy during this period with people both loving and hating Benito Mussolini and his Italian Fascist Party. After he is ousted from power, the German forces begin occupation and Italian Jews are rounded up and sent to camps.
A mystery is woven in the story when an old man is murdered, his mouth filled with salt. As many of the Resistance Fighters had code names it added to the mystery of who might have been the murderer.