Emily Sheridan is a writer of cozy mysteries, but ill health and the collapse of her marriage has her suffering from writer's block. Her best friend Chess Chandler, a very successful writer of self-help books, whisks them both away to a villa in Italy to write and reconnect. Emily is immediately intrigued by the knowledge that Villa Aestas (formerly Villa Rosato) was dubbed the Murder House after the 1974 murder of a guest staying with rock star Noel Gordon for the summer. While up and coming musician Pierce Sheldon would perish, his girlfriend, Mari, would soon emerge from the fateful summer as the author of a groundbreaking horror book and her stepsister, Lara would end up recording one of the greatest solo albums of the time period. Once Emily uncovers secrets about the murder hidden in the house, she is inspired to start writing again while it appears that Chess has plans of her own. The story effectively shifts back and forth from the present to that tragic summer of 1974.
The Villa by Rachel Hawkins, with its gothic ambiance, was a satisfying read. And while this is a mystery, the appeal was in the dynamics between the two main characters in each time period - Emily and Chess and Mari and Lara. Each pair cared deeply for the other, but competition and jealousy complicated the relationships. It's a good one to start the new year.
Many thanks to St. Martin's Press for the opportunity to read The Villa in advance of its publication.
Rated 4 out of 5 stars.
Mystery / Suspense.
Publication Date: January 3, 2023.
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