A Tuscan Renaissance villa serves as the setting of the most unusual double murder mystery you will ever read. In the summer of 1958, Cambridge art history major Adam Strickland travels to Italy to research a monograph on an elaborate 16th-century garden. Drawn into the garden's intricate designs, grottoes, iconography, and inscriptions, Strickland soon begins to wonder if its elaborate patterns might hold the key to the 1548 death of the estate owner's wife. As he digs deeper, he also detects haunting inconsistencies in accounts of a far more recent murder, which occurred in the villa during the waning days of World War II. A captivating mystery with a sweet touch of Tuscan romance.
Struggling to keep his head in this seductively drawn company of educated and refined landowners, Adam applies his academic approach to the tantalizing mystery and, at no small cost to his own ego, eventually solves it. But in the process this naïve young man also learns more than any outsider needs to know about the desperate measures families will adopt to survive the wounds of war.
The New York Times
… The Savage Garden is an impressive performance by a young British screenwriter whose first novel, Amagansett, was much admired three years ago.
The Washington Post
New York Times Book Review
A romantic and gracefully executed literary puzzle.
A sumptuous tale of multiple mysteries, family intrigues and hearty Continental flavor that demonstrates Mills has earned a prime place at the crime fiction table.
New York Times
New York Daily News
In his first suspense novel, Amagansett, Mark Mills displayed a literary voice that was thoroughly embracing. The same is true in The Savage Garden.
Two murders separated by centuries make up the heart of this excellent literary mystery. Set in the beautiful Tuscan countryside during the summer of 1958, Mills's novel tells the story of Adam Strickland, an art history major researching the 16th-century garden on the grounds of the Villa Docci. As Strickland studies the intricate sculptures and inscriptions in the garden, he deciphers a series of clues that hint at a murder committed more than 400 years ago. He also discovers evidence of another murder, this one only 14 years in the past. Unraveling the former mystery will find him a place in academic history, but solving the latter will place his life in danger. Stuart brings just the right touch to his reading of this intelligently written story. With an excellent use of his vocal talents, he moves easily from one character to another, never overplaying the accents or gender. His descriptive narration uses Mills's prose to sweep the listener into a classic world of intrigue and suspense. Fans of P.D. James and the like will enjoy. Simultaneous release with the Putnam hardcover (Reviews, Mar. 5). (May)Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
This subtle and engaging mystery begins when Adam Strickland, an English college student, is dispatched to Italy in 1958 to study a unique garden. As Adam undertakes his research, he perceives that the garden's ornamentation is not a literary riddle but a 400-year-old confession to murder. While he is determining the garden's significance, he becomes aware of a more recent murder and begins investigating. Sophisticated armchair sleuths will delight in this book's characterization and ambiance. Ian Stuart's narration is unobtrusive and gentle. He handles the Italian words and phrases with casual confidence. Cultured listeners will be both entertained and satisfied with Mills's well-received second title, after Amagansett. Recommended.
In the second novel from Mills (Amagansett, 2004), a student unearths deadly secrets at a stately Tuscan villa. Cambridge scholar Adam Banting gets an unexpected offer from his mentor, Prof. Crispin Leonard: to explore the exotic garden of Leonard's old friend Signora Docci, and write an academic study of her singular garden. Having few other prospects and languishing in his relationship with aspiring writer Gloria, Adam accepts. Over ten years after WWII ended, the collective Italian psyche has conflicting emotions about its role in the war. Indeed, Signora Docci dotes on the memory of her son Emilio, whose death at the hands of German soldiers is shrouded in mystery. Adam gets contradictory snippets from a friendly local tradesman named Fausto and from the Signora's flirtatious granddaughter, Antonella, among others, before his charming, no-account brother Harry arrives unexpectedly to complicate his life. The garden Adam's come to study is lush and elaborate, its statuary eerily sensual and life-like. His appreciation warms the glamorous Signora Docci, and she unexpectedly takes him to bed, making him promise to keep their tryst a secret. He's excited to discover that the nine tiers of the garden correspond to the Dante's nine circles of Hell. As he uncovers more secrets about Emilio's suspicious death, Adam realizes that subtle features of the garden are offering clues. A murder puzzle wrapped around a literary deconstruction grounded in a perceptive study of seduction and survival. Sublime. Agent: Jennifer Rudolph Walsh/William Morris Agency