11th Sep 2012
The Lost Daughter by Lucretia Grindle
Skipping forward three decades from her previous novel, The Villa Triste, which attracted much praise with its gentle narrative spun between the Gestapo years and 2006, Lucretia Grindle’s The Lost Daughter comes as a rapid sequel – a policier that packs no less of a punch.
Unafraid to tackle subjects such as partisan uprising under the Nazi occupation in Triste, Grindle brings the antics of Italy’s Brigate Rosse, a Marxist-Leninist guerilla political movement, to a readership perhaps more au fait with their contemporaries ETA and the IRA.
With her two preceding novels, particularly The Faces of Angels, Grindle has acquired a thriller-thirsty fan-base itching for more.
Her readers have since been rewarded with the sturdy character of one of Florence’s finest, suited and booted senior policemen, Allesandro Pallioti and his amiable and younger deputy, Enzo Saenz.
Saenz’s casual style perfectly offsets Pallioti’s, contining crime writing’s tradition of oddly effective couplings.
This is a tale of a vanishing foreign student, and with only 70 miles separating Florence from Perugia, it’s hard not to think of the Knox-Kercher case of 2007.
Kristen Carson, a 17 year-old American student opens this novel by closing her suitcase, leaving behind a childhood toy on her pillow and her apartment on a January afternoon before heading out into the cold.
Thereafter the novel evolves into a hunt, a study of love, and what binds us and tests us within the realms of sexual and family relationships.
Anchoring all of this is an exploration of Italian social and political history anchored around the kidnap and murder of Aldo Moro, the former Italian Prime Minister, in 1978.
With an admirable skill in meshing the historical with the fictional, and with an ever-increasing grasp of the fine art of the dénouements, Grindle’s mastery of characterisation makes for a rounded and mature novel.
The action moves seamlessly between the ruby-slabbed routine of the butcher’s daughter and the life of a fugitive against an evocative backdrop of Florence, Ferrara and Rome.
Recommended for: Anyone looking for a gripping read, be it on the beach, bed, sofa or train.