The Villa

Rachel Hawkins (Reckless Girls; The Wife Upstairs; Rebel Belle) brings two generations of artists to The Villa in a tense dual-timeline thriller set in Orvieto, Italy. In 1974, Mari; her married boyfriend, Pierce; and her stepsister, Lara, join a famous musician and his dealer for a summer of sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll. Pierce is brutally murdered at the villa that summer and, afterward, Mari publishes a tremendously popular horror novel and Lara releases one of the most acclaimed albums of the 1970s. Almost 50 years later, cozy mystery author Emily accepts an invitation from her lifelong best friend, Chess, to six weeks of relaxation and writing at the same picturesque villa. As Emily works to free herself from her long-running series and soon-to-be ex-husband, a nonfiction book about the murder fairly pours out of her. Chess is a much more successful writer of women's self-help books, however, and decades of resentment and competition resurface as trust and truth are tested.

Hawkins plays on gendered power dynamics and the complexities of sisterhood. As Mari writes: "Houses remember." And this Italian villa echoes with infidelity, secrets and toxic love--that of family, friends and lovers. Hawkins excels at foreshadowing, keeping readers just ahead of her true crime-writing heroine. Can Emily uncover and learn from the events of 1974? Or is she destined to repeat them? The Villa is a deliciously gothic mix of music, murder and messy relationships, perfect for readers who appreciate nuanced, morally gray characters and a bit of revenge. --Suzanne Krohn, librarian and freelance reviewer

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