The Girl from Venice

The girl from Venice is floating lifelessly in a lagoon when fisherman Cenzo Vianello finds her. Shortly after he brings her aboard his boat, he discovers that German soldiers are looking for her. To his surprise and despite appearances, she is far from lifeless, something that could change quickly if the Germans catch her, especially since she has killed one of them. With that, Martin Cruz Smith (Gorky Park, Tatiana) gets The Girl from Venice, set in occupied Italy in the waning days of World War II, off to a strong start.

Cenzo hides the girl, Giulia, in his fishing shack and helps her with a plan to escape. Meanwhile back at home, he's trying to thwart his mother's efforts to wed him to his younger brother's widow when the war is over. But even after he gets Giulia out of Venice, he can't get her off his mind. That's partly because too many people--Germans, Fascists, partisans and their collaborators--are still after her. Even though Cenzo doesn't know exactly where she's gone, they believe he's the key to finding her. Still, that's not the whole reason Cenzo hopes to track her down before they do.

Cenzo really has no idea what he's getting himself into, and his confusion is occasionally mirrored by plot convolutions. Nevertheless, snappy dialogue and a brisk pace keep readers engaged as the tension builds, and Cenzo emerges as an engaging, unlikely hero. Readers who enjoy historical fiction and thrillers will appreciate how Smith combines them in The Girl from Venice. --Florinda Pendley Vasquez, blogger at The 3 R's: Reading, Riting, and Randomness

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