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"The Savage Garden" by Mark Mills

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Mark Mills is rapidly becoming a favorite. I was so taken by "Amagansett" that I doubted he could equal it in this subsequent work. I'm very pleased to be able to say he didn't disappoint. He seems to have the ability to spin a mystery out of a multitude of situations, and if the library's waiting list for his latest, [The Information Officer], is any indication, a horde of other readers feel the same way.

Adam Strickland has just finished his end-of-term exams at 1958 Cambridge when his mentor offers him the opportunity to review and write a thesis on an unspoiled Renaissance garden in Tuscany. His ready acceptance plunges him into a centuries-old murder mystery, and the intrigue and life-threatening danger that surround it. Along the way, we touch on a more recent murder, and the family haunted by both to the present day. Young Adam excels at medieval symbolism and culture, and apparently also at following clues from much more recent crimes. Or is he?

This story offers us the sympathetic strengths of a very bright young man, adept at gleaning clues from Dante as well as modern forensics. Other attractive characters abound here, such as Adam's ne'er-do-well sculptor brother Harry, and Antonella, the beautiful-but-scarred young woman who may or may not have ulterior motives for seducing Adam. This work is cleverly constructed, a compulsive page-turner, and a very gratifying, multi-layered thriller.

Have at it! And explore the rest of Mills's oeuvre while you're at it. I certainly am.
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