Published by St. Martin's Press on January 3, 2023
As kids, Emily and Chess were inseparable. But by their 30s, their bond has been strained by the demands of their adult lives. So when Chess suggests a girls trip to Italy, Emily jumps at the chance to reconnect with her best friend.
Villa Aestas in Orvieto is a high-end holiday home now, but in 1974, it was known as Villa Rosato, and rented for the summer by a notorious rock star, Noel Gordon. In an attempt to reignite his creative spark, Noel invites up-and-coming musician, Pierce Sheldon to join him, as well as Pierce’s girlfriend, Mari, and her stepsister, Lara. But he also sets in motion a chain of events that leads to Mari writing one of the greatest horror novels of all time, Lara composing a platinum album––and ends in Pierce’s brutal murder.
As Emily digs into the villa’s complicated history, she begins to think there might be more to the story of that fateful summer in 1974. That perhaps Pierce’s murder wasn’t just a tale of sex, drugs, and rock & roll gone wrong, but that something more sinister might have occurred––and that there might be clues hidden in the now-iconic works that Mari and Lara left behind.
Yet the closer that Emily gets to the truth, the more tension she feels developing between her and Chess. As secrets from the past come to light, equally dangerous betrayals from the present also emerge––and it begins to look like the villa will claim another victim before the summer ends.
I’ve been mixed on Rachel Hawkins’ recent adult thrillers (I loved The Wife Upstairs but thought Reckless Girls was just okay). But this synopsis so appealed to me: gothic suspense, an Italian villa, murder, and a book about books. This was all very much up my alley!
I read this book in a day and a half. It was a quick read and once I got into it, I couldn’t put it down! I enjoyed the two time periods in the storyline, with my favourite being Emily and Chess’s story. And there were some fun twists and turns set against the sunny backdrop of the villa in Orvieto where they’re staying.
I don’t think this does anything new or very different, but I loved the setting and the focus on writing and books, which enhanced my enjoyment. Recommended!