The Girl from Venice

The Girl from Venice

by Martin Cruz Smith

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The highly anticipated new standalone novel from Martin Cruz Smith, whom The Washington Post has declared “that uncommon phenomenon: a popular and well-regarded crime novelist who is also a writer of real distinction,” The Girl from Venice is a suspenseful World War II love story set against the beauty, mystery, and danger of occupied


The highly anticipated new standalone novel from Martin Cruz Smith, whom The Washington Post has declared “that uncommon phenomenon: a popular and well-regarded crime novelist who is also a writer of real distinction,” The Girl from Venice is a suspenseful World War II love story set against the beauty, mystery, and danger of occupied Venice.

Venice, 1945. The war may be waning, but the city known as La Serenissima is still occupied and the people of Italy fear the power of the Third Reich. One night, under a canopy of stars, a fisherman named Cenzo comes across a young woman’s body floating in the lagoon and soon discovers that she is still alive and in trouble.

Born to a wealthy Jewish family, Giulia is on the run from the Wehrmacht SS. Cenzo chooses to protect Giulia rather than hand her over to the Nazis. This act of kindness leads them into the world of Partisans, random executions, the arts of forgery and high explosives, Mussolini’s broken promises, the black market and gold, and, everywhere, the enigmatic maze of the Venice Lagoon.

The Girl from Venice is a thriller, a mystery, and a retelling of Italian history that will take your breath away. Most of all it is a love story.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In this refreshing departure from Smith’s popular international thrillers, the 15th novel from this two-time Hammett Award–winner (Gorky Park) is a clever, well-crafted, and exciting blend of WWII romance, suspense, and intrigue. Set in Nazi-occupied Venice, Italy, in 1945, just weeks before Germany’s surrender to the Allies, Cenzo the fisherman finds a young woman floating in the lagoon. He rescues her and kills a German officer to protect her. Eighteen-year-old Giulia is the sole surviving daughter of a wealthy Jewish family, now sought by the Germans, Fascists, and partisans because she can identify the traitor who betrayed her family. Cenzo is a simple fisherman, a veteran of Mussolini’s war in Ethiopia, and wants nothing to do with this war. He feels obligated to help Giulia escape her pursuers but must rely on people he cannot trust, especially his older brother, Giorgio, a handsome Italian movie star and Fascist collaborator, as well as a Nazi colonel with a curious interest in Giulia’s family. As Cenzo and Giulia wind their way through a maze of deceit, danger, and betrayal, they fall in love amid the turmoil of German retreat, Fascist brutality, and partisan reprisal. Capture, escape, a hoard of stolen gold, a forger, and a Swiss movie producer add action and passion to the novel’s unexpected plot twists, and its most satisfying conclusion. Agent: Andrew Nurnberg, Andrew Nurnberg Associates. (Oct.)
Library Journal
At the end of World War II, occupied Venice is a dangerous city, even for a simple fisherman like Cenzo Vianello. Cenzo's life is upended when he finds a woman floating in the lagoon and decides to protect her rather than turn her over to the German authorities. Giulia is an upper-class Jewish escapee, and Cenzo uses his connections to smuggle her out of Venice after spending a few days with her fishing and growing close. When the Italian military seeks assistance identifying the man who betrayed Giulia's family, Cenzo agrees to help track her down. He must navigate a treacherous world filled with shifting allegiances while his family's past complicates matters further. A strong, atmospheric opening draws readers into a 1940s Venetian fishing village during wartime. However, Cenzo and Giulia's relationship doesn't feel fully fleshed out, making it hard to be invested in the risks he takes to find her. Cenzo is often catching up to the action, not driving it, keeping readers at an arm's length against a backdrop of complicated Italian history. VERDICT This stand-alone novel may appeal more to historical fiction fans than readers of Smith's (Tatiana) espionage thrillers.—Emily Byers, Salem P.L., OR
Kirkus Review
After his Russian Arkady Renko series (Tatiana, 2013, etc.), Smith spins a tale about an Italian fisherman and the Jewish girl he finds floating in the sea.In 1945, World War II is almost over, but the SS is still hunting Jews. Innocenzo “Cenzo” Vianello casts fishing nets into a Venice lagoon and finds a body in the water. He pulls the apparently dead young woman onto his boat, Fatima, and covers her with a sailcloth. Soon he finds her sitting up and eating his polenta. She is Giulia Silber, and the SS wants her. They have already killed the rest of her family. “The SS rounded up all the Jews,” a character says. “All but a girl who swam away.” For his part, Cenzo’s “sole intent was to outlive” the war, but he has Giulia dress up as a fellow fisherman and kills a German officer. Meanwhile, Cenzo’s older brother Giorgio leads a different type of life as a movie actor (“Prince Charming”) who proudly spreads propaganda for Il Duce, Benito Mussolini. Cenzo would like “the pleasure of personally strangling his brother,” whom he calls “Mussolini’s golden boy.” Cenzo himself had been a pilot who’d been dishonorably discharged for refusing to attack Abyssinians with mustard gas, and now he’s content to just fish and paint. He's painted a picture of a fighter plane strafing the Fatima and killing his younger brother, Hugo. That piloting experience comes in handy as he’s asked to fly gold bullion to Switzerland in a tiny Stork reconnaissance plane. How he meets that challenge both illuminates his humanity and entertains the reader. In fact, all the characters come alive.This is a thoughtful and engrossing novel with more than enough action to keep the pages turning.

Product Details

Simon & Schuster
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
6.12(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.00(d)

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Meet the Author

Martin Cruz Smith’s novels include Gorky Park, Stallion Gate, Polar Star, Stalin’s Ghost, Rose, December 6, and Tatiana. He is a two-time winner of the Hammett Prize, a recipient of Britain’s Golden Dagger Award, and a winner of the Premio Piemonte Giallo Internazionale. He lives in California.

Brief Biography

San Rafael, California
Date of Birth:
November 3, 1942
Place of Birth:
Reading, Pennsylvania
B.A., University of Pennsylvania, 1964