STARRED REVIEW
November 2016

Forging new life and love in hiding

By Martin Cruz Smith
Review by
Martin Cruz Smith, who has been called “the master of the international thriller” by the New York Times, departs from his usual modus operandi to put an old-fashioned romance at the heart of his latest suspense novel.
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Martin Cruz Smith, who has been called “the master of the international thriller” by the New York Times, departs from his usual modus operandi to put an old-fashioned romance at the heart of his latest suspense novel.

Cenzo is an Italian fisherman who spends his nights trolling the lagoons of Venice for cuttlefish, sole and sea bass. It’s the waning days of World War II, and Allied bombers often pass over his fishing boat, headed for Turin, Milan or Verona. Venice is still occupied by the Nazis, who seem to be unaware of the hopelessness of their cause and still doggedly pursue their enemies, especially any Jews still in hiding. One morning, it isn’t fish that Cenzo finds in his nets, but a young woman: Giulia, an Italian Jew who is fleeing the German SS squad that killed members of her family.

Cenzo, who has lost both a brother and wife to the war, impulsively decides he must do whatever he can to keep Giulia out of the hands of the Nazis. That decision leads him down a potentially dangerous path, as Venice is in a chaotic state at war’s end. Nazis, Fascists and various partisan groups are lurking around every corner, trying to establish themselves before the end finally arrives.

Smith blends this glimpse into Italy’s past with a charming story of the love that grows between the poor fisherman with little hope for change in his future and a young woman raised in one of Venice’s wealthiest families. Though it lacks the tension levels of his Arkady Renko thrillers, The Girl from Venice is an enlightening look at the chaos of Italy at the end of World War II, enlivened by a romance taken straight from the pages of a fairy tale.

 

This article was originally published in the November 2016 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

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The Girl from Venice

The Girl from Venice

By Martin Cruz Smith
Simon & Schuster
ISBN 9781439140239

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